Being someone who is pumped for ideas and answers, talking and advising people gives me an adrenaline rush! I am flattered when someone wants to pick my brains – and even more so when they implement the ideas we have shared. All of our brains are a gift; and if we decide that they’re not available for picking, we do so at our own risk of social isolation, let alone loss of compassion for someone whose life we may change for the better if we just stop thinking about ourselves for a few minutes and instead invest that time in another human being.
But I hate the “brain pickers” who want to get as much as free advice as they can to solve their problem without having to do the math themselves i.e. the actual work. Worse still, to use the discussion session to vet what they have already read or heard many times before they make a decision. Typical brain pickers are not looking for a friendly guidance or advice. They are looking for the other person to solve their problem. But hey, you need to pay a fee for that!!
We are a part of Social Media all around us. We post, follow, comment, reply, like something, etc. but the social media interaction is mostly binary in nature than analog. I wonder if we can add real meaning to the social media based relationships. The world and individuals are looking for faster ways of communications far more than the better ways. I personally enjoy a quick and meaningful chat much more than a series of fragmented communications through Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
We all have many acquaintances who have knowledge we can apply to our work or life. One needs to be sufficiently able to differentiate between seeking advice and solving problems. Granted everyone doesn’t know how to approach others but when you do get lucky, be prepared with your research so that they can actually guide you instead of solve your problem. Respecting the person’s time and talents are key fundamentals not to be overlooked. True leaders like to give back and do so willingly. You have to know how and where to draw the line. I am not sure why but the internet and social media seems to have made people think basic manners are no longer necessary.
Plus, a little courtesy goes a long way. All too often the “may I pick your brains” question is stated not as a question but as a statement of expectation, as in “I want to pick your brains and I can’t imagine any reason that you wouldn’t give me all the time that I want to do that.” Even in our deeply impersonal age, that feels just a bit self-serving and arrogant. If you want to impose on a busy person’s time, don’t make cold calls and do make it worth their while. Offer them something in return. That something doesn’t have to be (probably shouldn’t be) money. It should be something even more valuable, an opportunity for them to learn too.
P.S.- Remember, courtesy is cultural. Some people are more direct than others – in their culture, that doesn’t mean that they are rude. Now, if in a planet of this size we expect everybody to know what our own personal rules of courtesy are before they approach us, we’re asking for a little bit too much.