Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform

Avoid the brain pickers!

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…’do you think I just could pick your brain about….’, and THAT is just about where I, now, switch off!

Sound familiar? The world is full of them…’brain pickers’ (BPs).  They look like normal people, they seemingly behave like normal people but really, BPs are angels of death.  Ok that’s a little exaggerated, but really, they are devils in disguise and they will be the death of your business and/or will impact greatly on your emotional and spiritual well-being.

The fact is, is that we live in a world that is full of opportunists.  People who want to short-cut or bypass the system.  There are people out there who just don’t want to have to take the time to learn or gain the experience needed to understand something. They want it and they want it now!  So what do they do?

They find people like you and me, people who have done the hard work, the miles, the late nights after hours of trying to get your head around something, the years earning the qualifications, you’ve shed the tears, you’ve sweated the blood, then they try and PICK IT FROM YOUR BRAIN!

BPs are usually very clever at sugar-coating their picking. They sneak it by you without you even noticing what they are doing.  For example, they will say things like “Oh, you are SO good at ‘X’, maybe I could pick your…”, or, “I could never be as good as you, maybe I could pick your….”.  But one of the best ones to use, is sympathy.  BPs who use this tactic will appear to be in distress or in need of your help, and you’d certainly be a bad person to not help them wouldn’t you?

Well no you wouldn’t!  you’d do well to protect yourself from BPs and here’s why.  BPs leave you feeling used.  People who have had their brain picked feel taken for granted, shafted, tired, angry, frustrated, dumbfounded and well, downright cheap!  And you’d be right to feel cheap, after all they have probably just taken what may have taken you years to learn, as well as thousands in fees for your qualifications, and they just got it for free!

So what can you do?  This is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time, though I’ve come to learn that letting people pick my brain, is not worth the heartache it causes.  I’ve been left feeling used and abused more times than I can remember.  In the long run it doesn’t end up good for either party as depending on your relationship, for example if it’s is a friend doing the picking (yes they can do it too!), colleague or business partner, then it will impact your relationship with them and ultimately your relationship will falter.

The funny thing here is that no-one can pick your brain without your permission!  Based on this, it’s up to YOU to make the change and put in boundaries that are going to lead to an ultimately better, all-round relationship where no-one feels taken for granted.

So, there are some simple rules to live by that I’ve found helpful in this quest to avoid losing a hemisphere, or two, that you may also find useful…here we go!

  1. Know who the free-loaders are vs those you are happy to help – There will be people that you do actually want to help for ‘free’.  They might be family or particular friends, maybe you do some pro-bono or charity work.  Give to those that you want to, and simply say no to those that you don’t.  You have a right.  It’s your brain!
  2. Say thank you –   Thank them for recognising your strengths.  Say that you would love to help them and that you charge £XX for your services.  Would they like to book an appointment?
  3. Direct them to your website – Assuming the BP in front of you is NOT one of those that you want to be helping for nowt, then simply direct them to your website or give them your business card.  Its OK to say that you don’t have the time for someone to ‘pick your brain’, but that they can probably find all they need on your site.  If they’d like to follow up, you’d be happy to and that your consultation rates are also on your site.  How convenient.
  4. Call em out! – Ok, this one takes guts.  It will depend very much on your relationship with that person, but there is nothing wrong with appropriately asking them what YOU get from the interaction?  I direct ‘OK great, what do I get from this?’ might be completely valid.  In fact even it may lead to a neat way of bartering skills?  Maybe they also have something that they can/would like to give in return for your help, then everyone’s a winner.
  5. The la la la method – Pretend to not be able to hear them, stick your fingers in your ears and shout ‘la la la’ at the top of your voice.  Ok, this one is a joke, but remember, if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.  If you feel like you are being taken for granted or that you are giving away too much information, information, advice or services that people usually pay for, then you are within your rights to cease the interaction and walk away.  Remember, no rational, ‘good’, law-abiding citizen would walk into a shop and steal goods. Just as it’s NOT ok to do this, it’s NOT OK to ‘steal’ from people’s minds without paying.  So, if you catch the thief, even half way through the robbery, make them stop!

I hope you found these tips useful.  If you did I’d love to hear from you.  Have you had anyone pick your brain before?  How did it feel?  Did you make them stop or are you still stuck in the same pattern of allowing it to happen?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.  There will be more tips and advice given in my new Newsletter which starts in January, along with a new ‘Money’ segment for all you Multi-passionates out there! Please sign up to receive this.

Till next time!


One thought on “Avoid the brain pickers!

  1. That was heartfelt! And so well-observed. Yes, they are out there, those BPs, and they can be brazen. I have given loads of my time and energy to people who never even manage a thank you as they sail off and use my contacts, experience and expertise. Especially galling when they rewrite history afterwards and your contribution is totally deleted. I think I am learning, but it’s a hard lesson when you actually enjoy helping people. But you are absolutely right, it’s important to know when and whom you wish to help, and to stick to that. Great post!

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