The Thing About Advice: Who Do You Trust?

Last week, when I read Seth Godin's blog post, "Most Advice is Bad Advice..." it got me thinking about advice in general.

I'll cut to the chase and say that I don't agree with him. At least not completely.

The problem is knowing whose advice is safe to take and who's isn't - which makes it all about trust.

And don't think that this is a "challenge." It's a problem - at least for you - because if you trust the wrong person, take their advice and it goes wrong, it's you who takes the hit. Not them.

You decided. You take the consequences.

So let's go back to that trust issue and figure out how to reduce the risk when you're making the decision of whom to trust - or whether to take any advice at all (which is also a perfectly acceptable decision).

Trust, as I've written in many previous posts and articles, is behavioral. But, in the case of advice-giving, underneath the behavior is the intent of the advisor - and that's where your smarts and instincts have to come in. Ask yourself:
  • Why did you choose that person to ask?
  • What have they done that led you to think that they know or will have good input about what you need to know?
  • Do they have a reputation of being trustworthy?
  • Are they a role model in the realm about which you're asking?
  • How well do you know them?
  • How well do they know you?
  • What are their goals?
  • How are they rewarded - particularly if they're part of your business life?
  • What's in it for them to give you the advice?
  • Will you make them look good...or better?
The more you understand your chosen advisor's underlying intent, the more you can protect yourself from taking advice that is well-meaning for them but not, necessarily, for you.

Something to think about. Especially before you ask...or you advise.
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