Giving Advanced 1-1s
Giving Advanced 1-1s

Giving Advanced 1-1s

If you do this right, you're going to change people's lives!

The 'advanced' category is pretty broad, and spans across a wide section of EA engagement.

If you do a good job, what these people learn from talking with you could change their moral views, their cause prioritisation, and their career path - there's a lot of impact on the table.

You can identify whether it's an advanced 1-1 if you get a sense of what they're trying to do with EA ideas.

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You can usually recognise if someone's at a more advanced level if you can tell they're really engaging with the ideas and different options you're talking about - if they're responding less like "Oh, interesting," and more like their actual worldview is changing.

What value are you trying to provide?

For more advanced mentees, the most important part of

is getting them thinking about how they want to change their plans based on your conversations.

Whereas introductory 1-1s might not be ready yet to think about changing their plans.

You'll develop the skill of helping your mentee critically assess the position they're thinking about, as well as work through the implications of updates in their thinking.

We want to give them agency to develop their own views. So, don't just focus on refuting their current beliefs.

Instead, you're trying to help them develop their ability to think independently, and this will more often involve asking questions that prompt them to, for example:

  • explore an idea/position more deeply
  • go back over their reasons for believing or rejecting something
  • crystalise their reasons to reject rebuttals of their position
  • clarify what their current position means they should be aiming to do in the future
  • clarify what their current position means they should be doing right now

As your relationship develops, you can be more brutally honest

If you've been talking 1-1 with this person for long enough that they are thinking openly and critically about their career plans, then advanced 1-1s are a chance for you to really take seriously your role as an accountability mechanism.

Don't shy away from asking tough, but important questions.

If they're not doing something you think would be really important for them, you should say this.

Sometimes people get stuck in little ruts because of things they assume about the world that are falsifiable with a pretty embarassingly quick Google.

  • For example, if you notice that they have the assumption that there aren't any EA jobs they'd be interested in or good at, make sure they know about the 80,000 Hours job board and have actually spent the ~1hr required to fully read it.

Before you really try to dig in, though, you'll need to know where their boundaries are for feedback & radical honesty of this kind.

  • Set these expectations explicitly with your mentees when they start getting more advanced; for example, you can tell them 'I'll sometimes be holding you to account, to make sure you do things that could be really useful for you.'
  • From here it's easier to introduce a version of your role that looks more like a personal trainer, helping them push themselves and 'work out' their worldview.
  • But, you can only really get them to make these changes if they know you're on their side, wanting to help them develop however they ultimately think would be best, so be careful not to be belligerent or pushy.
  • We don't have all the answers. If they're honestly intellectually engaging with the criticisms you've raised, but they're still not convinced, then this is a sign of a great dynamic.

If you ever feel like you have some pretty tough love to give them, you still might want to soften the blow. Here are three tips to do that:

  1. Check in: Explaining what you're going to do before you launch into it can help your mentee prepare for the context shift.
  2. Avoid strong statements: You can phrase things as questions, hypotheticals, or suggestions, to make them seem less harsh.
  3. Not too much at once: Try not to overload them - you don't want them leaving your sessions feeling overwhelmed by the problems you've raised, or disheartened because they're worried you think less of them.