If you consider yourself an expert advice giver, it may be time to audit your best practices.
According to an article in Inc. magazine by business contributor Bill Murphy Jr., even the most well-intentioned managers confuse the simplest advice with the best advice — often because we are all just trying to get our work done by the end of the day.
"The Advice Giver is usually an established, busy person. They have a lot of meetings. They have their own problems (which might be the same as yours, by the way). The Giver isn't really thinking about your business. They're pattern matching," he cites Daniel Gross as writing. "The Giver will often give you the advice that comes with the most cognitive ease. The simplest advice, instead of the most correct advice."
His point? The best advice isn't usually the first thing that comes to your mind, no matter how experienced you are or how much knowledge you have. Instead, the best advice comes from flexing your emotional intelligence and asking questions to determine what the advice seeker is really looking for.
"One of the core attributes of an emotionally intelligent exchange between any two people is that the person reacting to the other person does so with a support response, rather than a shift response," Murphy says. "A support response moves the focus away from yourself, and towards the other person. A shift response refocuses a conversation toward you (and away from whomever you're speaking with)."
Instead of focusing the advice you give on your impression of the scenario or your past experiences, demonstrate emotionally intelligence and ask questions that help you tailor your advice.
For example, Murphy says if someone asks you "Should I go back to school and get another degree?," instead of answering with your own experience by saying something like "I certainly never regretted getting my MBA," lead with questions. Ask: "What would you plan to do with the degree? What's the opportunity cost of pursuing it?" Then, apply your knowledge to their context.
Not only will this practice help your advice be better, it will make it seem better to the advice seeker, too. They will feel truly listened to and remember the extra thought you gave them. More question marks, more pay off.
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