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Feedback Seeker’s Folly: Requesting Advice (vs. Feedback) Yields More Developmental Input
Employees often depend on valuable insights from one another to improve and develop their careers. Yet people are often reluctant to provide their colleagues with the critical and actionable insights that can best facilitate the recipient’s development, often fearing the conflict that delivering such information may engender. In this paper, we propose and test one means of overcoming this feedback deficiency: soliciting developmental input by asking for “advice” rather than for “feedback.” Across four experiments, including a field experiment, we find asking for advice (versus feedback) about one’s task performance yields more developmental, critical, and actionable input across a diverse range of contexts, samples, and activities. A fifth study reveals that people seeking developmental input most often request “feedback,” rather than “advice,” illuminating a suboptimal feedback-seeking-and-giving process, whereby requesters’ typical feedback-seeking strategies inhibit feedback providers from delivering the developmental information requesters most desire.