Today is day 4 of the the 20-day Happiness Challenge for Fedability! Each day, you’ll have one activity to perform that should take you less than 10 minutes to complete. Today’s activity is to ask for advice from someone outside of your department. Many assume (incorrectly) that asking for advice will make them seem less competent. We (and the research) disagree! Not only will you seem more competent, you’ll also be happier when you ask for advice.

If you read last week’s blog post that introduced the 20-day Happiness Challenge you know that I identified 5 different activities. These 5 specific activities are chosen because of the impact they will have for you. And a positive impact on the person that’s receiving the benefits of your action. To make it easier to do the challenge, we’ve created a 20-day calendar for this challenge. You get the calendar for FREE if you sign up for the FedFan newsletter.

There’s a lot of reasons to ask for advice. But in terms of happiness, the biggest reasons are how it makes the other person feel and the connection you build with that person.

The trouble is, there are many who think that if they ask for advice it means they don’t know how to do their job. But, let’s explore that for a second – can we?

Think back to the last time someone asked you, “Could I get your advice on something?” If I had to guess, you probably said yes. And, I’d also guess you were a little flattered to be asked. I’ll take a bigger leap to guess that you never thought, “This person is clearly incompetent since they wanted to get my advice.”

What’s in it for you? The obvious reason is that you might get an answer to solve your quandary. Another reason is that the person giving advice will feel good about themselves. Wouldn’t it make you feel at least a little happier to know you made someone feel good about themselves?

Another reasons is they will also think you’re smarter.

Wait, what? They’ll think you’re smarter? Yes, Harvard Business Review has done the research and gives an emphatic yes, others will think you’re smarter.

Ok, but what should you ask for advice on?

Great question!

Here’s some things you can ask for advice about:

  • Be a sounding board on an idea.
  • Get perspective on a new process you are considering
  • Brain storm solutions
  • Lessons learned on approaching a new situation

Now you might be wondering why today’s activity is specifically to ask for advice from someone outside your own office. The reason is we tend to ask for advice from people we know well and trust. Partly because we’re afraid to look like an idiot (But we now know that’s not true, right?).

The potential issue with this is that your trusted friend is likely to think similar to you and serve only to validate an opinion you may already hold.

By asking for advice from someone outside your office, you will get a broader perspective. An outside perspective to be more specific. Plus, you’ll be building a stronger, wider professional network.

Ok, before you go off to ask for advice…I wanted to pass one more bit of advice myself (thanks for asking!).

Here’s a template for how to frame your request for advice:

  1. Give some context or background on whatever challenge you are asking advice on.
  2. Let them know what your goal is for receiving their advice. Are you just brainstorming? Do you want their perspective?
  3. Tell them what your struggle is.
  4. Tell them what you’ve already tried (if applicable)
  5. Then ask for advice, “What would you recommend?”

This template wasn’t my brain child. It came from Nicholas Reese. Listen to how he explains it:

As for myself, I’ve already completed this activity (got an early start). I asked for advice from someone outside my office on what his perspective was on the process I’d put into place for my team. He’s a ‘customer’ of ours who’d started off with saying, “It’s much better than it used to be.”

I followed up by asking what else he would recommend that we try to make it even better. The discussion evolved into me asking more questions – and in the end, he sent me a number of different materials helped with other issues I was working on.

He’d initially come to my office to apologize for missing a meeting. But, when he left he commented that he hopes that he made up for it with his advice. So, I’m pretty sure he felt happier for having had the chance to help me and my team.

Tell us, what are you going to ask for advice about?

Now, the hardest part of keeping on track with a challenge is the accountability and support to keep on going. I hope you’ll follow along with me and the other Fed Fans that are participating. I also hope that you’ll share your successes with us either on twitter #happieratwork or on the Fedability facebook page. You can find me on twitter @danaesims_iopsy. Or, you can leave a comment in the space below.

I look forward to hearing how your 4th day challenge goes!

Ready to go on to Day 5 of the Happiness Challenge? Let’s offer a team member help to be happier at work!

Did you miss Day 3 of the Happiness Challenge? That’s ok! Read about how bragging about someone else may make you happier at work.