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I'm currently getting mentored by senior colleague. He's not too senior, just one year senior to me. Nobody lasts much in companies in Nepal so that's normal. Everyone moves abroad if they can.

Today I found out that he was getting somewhat annoyed by my stubbornness/firmness. I didn't get a good word for it I admit. My way of supporting my claim too much, maybe my inflexibility.

How do I create a line between being independent, creative, firm? The problem is if I agree too much with my senior colleague, I won't learn anything as that's not how you learn. You learn by trial and error and thinking a lot and being creative and independent. But if I continue to be like I am now, chances are good they won't be interested in mentoring me again.

How do I create that line?

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    Can you provide an example? I don't see how what someone calls creative/independent would be seen by others as stubborn, so it would help a lot.
    – Aida Paul
    Jul 31, 2023 at 16:14
  • So, your line manager doesn't like some of the creative ideas you are coming up with it seems? There are 3 ways to handle it 1 : become a Yes-Man and give apparent agreement and do very little to support his ideas and ensure everyone knows to is your manager who owns the project, not you. 2: Promote your ideas to his line manager when he is away from his desk e.g. day off or away on business "asking for suggestions". 3 : Work out if it is you or your manager that isn't up to the task and go get another job.
    – Nikki
    Aug 1, 2023 at 15:24
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    It depends very much on what you understand exactly by "(not) agreeing"? Creating errors as an experiment and the like is a good thing to learn. Disagreeing with everything the senior does or showing him you do the opposite to every advise probably will but push him away from you. So, how does your stubbornness show to him?
    – puck
    Aug 2, 2023 at 5:40
  • What do you mean by "firm?" You can agree to disagree, you know. It's good to express your opinion but when I tend to get annoyed is when someone keeps trying to argue the same point without offering any additional justification. Like, hey maybe if you say the same thing a few more times, I'll agree with you... Aug 2, 2023 at 5:53

2 Answers 2

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How do I create a line between being independent, creative, firm?

You have a conversation with your mentor.

You indicate that you noticed his annoyance, and that you want to try to fix things.

Then you listen, and modify your behavior as needed.

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    And once an issue is decided, stop fighting it for a while, at least, and don't raise it again until you have new evidence (not just rephrased arguments) to justify reconsideration. And don't grumble about "If we'd done it my way..." What's decided is decided until there is a business reason to reconsider it, preferably backed up with direct, measured, evidence.
    – keshlam
    Jul 31, 2023 at 17:25
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    Or to put it another way, you can be independent and creative. The senior gets to be firm. Sorry.
    – keshlam
    Jul 31, 2023 at 17:39
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    Also, people can disagree without arguing. I can listen to and respect someone else's point of view even though I may not act on all of the advice or information they give me.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:38
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I think the problem here is that your "stubbornness/firmness" is causing a misinterpretation of your intentions. My reading of the situation is that you have a mentor who has experience and seemingly has solutions for you. You want to be independent and creative by exploring your own solutions and getting experience that way, which is being seen by your mentor as ignoring his own teachings.

The very simple way around this is to sit down with your mentor and explain "Hey, I appreciate the knowledge and experience you have and am glad I have the opportunity to learn from you. I also want experience in finding solutions and exploring them on my own. Can we figure out a way going forward that I can get opportunities to do that?"

Stress that you being independent has nothing to do with them not being a good enough mentor, because it sounds like that has nothing to do with it. Also, a little advice - don't underestimate the value of having a mentor that does have solutions for you. Even if you're just following what he says, that is still valuable learning.

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