Growing up, life seemed simple. I relied on my education and intuition, because I thought I knew better I routinely dismissed the advice my mother offered.\u00a0 Years later, I understood that her wisdom was timeless. My mother said, \u201cif everyone put their problems in a bag, you would choose your own.\u201d The lesson was not to compare yourself with others, because you never know what is really going on with them.\u00a0 Sadly, I did not appreciate this advice.\nWhen I am told what to do I react negatively. While men tend to accept constructive criticism seeing it as a suggestion, women become defensive seeing it as a personal shortcoming. Rather than considering the suggestion, I reject it, and my mind shuts down. \u00a0At work this prevented me from benefitting from feedback offered during performance reviews. \u00a0\nThe best way to receive criticism is:\n\nTake a deep breath and keep an open mind.\nParaphrase back what you heard; this allows the other person to know you paid attention.\nAsk for specific examples and suggestions.\nAlways say \u201cThank you, I\u2019ll take it under consideration.\u201d\n\nWithout criticism, it is difficult to improve.\u00a0 Women ask for feedback less often than male colleagues, and women are 20% less likely to receive difficult feedback. Managers may be hesitant to deliver feedback to women because they are afraid it may sound mean. \u00a0As a result, when women receive feedback it may be vague which is less constructive. Feedback should enable others to improve; keep the dialogue positive, constructive and actionable.\nPeople have a natural aversion to accepting advice especially when they did not ask for it and may even be unaware there is an issue. \u00a0Your reaction and acceptance of advice often depends on the way the advice is offered.\u00a0 When feedback is offered using \u201cYOU\u201d it is seen as being accusatory. Once the listener feels threatened they may shut down and think only about why the advice does not apply to them.\nPresenting the same guidance using \u201cI\u201d appears friendlier.\u00a0 If the advice giver feels that they are superior, the situation becomes a power struggle. I may have dismissed my mother\u2019s advice because of our relationship dynamics.\u00a0 She was sharing wisdom, but I was unable to benefit from it. \u00a0Understanding how your communication will be received can change everything.\nAn effective way to provide advice is using a story from your past and waiting for an appropriate teachable moment (where the commentary is aligned and relevant to the situation). By focusing the advice on your situation it becomes non-threatening and gives the listener the freedom to consider your recommendation. Because it is your story (and not about them) it can lead to a discussion. Advice should not be presented as a directive \u201cdon\u2019t do this\u201d but rather it is situational, which allows an objective review of cause and effect.\nUnsolicited advice can be seen as criticism and can cause feelings of resentment or inadequacy. You can avoid this by creating a dialogue, which allows for a dispassionate examination of the situation. Instead of offering solutions, use probing questions to allow the receiver to think. Rather than saying \u201cdon\u2019t\u201d explore the circumstances.\nFor example, instead of telling someone \u201cdon\u2019t swim there\u201d step back and collect the facts. You might ask \u201cwhat is your swimming ability?\u201d and explore further \u201cAre you aware of the risks?\u201d\u00a0 Each situation is different.\u00a0 An accomplished swimmer stepping into a pool runs less risk than a novice diving into a shark tank. Use simple observations to get to the crux of the matter, keep the message simple, judgment free and positive. This lets each party understand the other\u2019s perspective.\nWhile people seek expert opinions for medical or financial matters, they are less apt to value unsolicited advice. Part of the problem is trust and doubt \u2013 how do you determine if the person providing advice is offering an expert opinion? Do you suspect alternative motives: are they spiteful, showing off or manipulating the situation? Three people you should accept advice from are:\n\nPeople who care about you and have your best interests at heart\nPeople with expertise\nPeople who use your services\n\nJust because you are given advice (even if it is from a good source) does not mean you need to act on it.\u00a0 You still need to test the advice and make sure it matches with your situation.\nThere are benefits from sharing advice. Learning from someone else\u2019s experiences is better than repeating their mistakes, advice provides different perspectives and can help you avoid potential pitfalls. Mentoring relationships are specifically designed for an open exchange of ideas, and to elicit feedback. Both parties can benefit from sharing advice, as long as they each maintain open minds and keep the conversation judgment-free.\nAdvice shared in the right context can strengthen the bond between people and lead you in directions that you never would have dreamed of before. Giving and taking advice effectively can expand your horizons, professionally and personally.\u00a0 Embrace the power of the people around you: connect, share, grow and learn.