The best part about advice is that it comes free and that people love to give it. The issue is not about people giving it and even if it were, you cannot stop them. The issue is about how you take it. Many of them would probably be seniors in the industry and you might feel obliged to pay attention to what they have to say. With all due respect to them, again, the issue is not about their knowledge or their intentions. It is about the relevance it might have for you and your job and about the limited knowledge they would have of it.
You need to make some rules on that for yourself and I can help you with a few here:
• If you want guidance on something, ask specific questions. Ideally, they would be questions with a few options to choose from. A question such as ‘How do I increase my sales ?’ can have 100 answers, of which ninety-nine might not be relevant to your job. Ask specific questions, such as ‘Do you think my customers will buy my product if the price is hiked by 20 per cent?’ or, ‘What is the maximum that you think a customer will pay for this?’ (giving them three options).
• There is a difference between suggestion and advice. Suggestion is a person telling you to think about something or to re-consider when taking a decision. Advice is that person’s opinion about something.
• Differentiate between industry advice and your company advice. Anything that is not specific to your business but is generally applicable to many other companies in your industry and category can be termed industry advice. You should welcome industry advice because it comes from people who are a part of that industry, especially peers and industry colleagues. For company-specific advice, stick to people who have knowledge about your company.
• Don’t take any advice at face value, from anyone, whether he is a veteran of your industry or its leader and no matter how much he knows about your company. Evaluate everything.
• Avoid taking advice from a person who has pondered the question and its relevance to your company only when you asked the question. In other words, a person who does not know much about your company can’t give you appropriate advice.
• Never take any advice from a person who is not ever going to meet you again. He has nothing to lose.
• Always listen to people when they tell you about their mistakes, failures and incorrect decisions. Generally, people don’t lie or exaggerate in such matters.
• Some of the best advice you can get is from people who have failed in trying to do what you are doing or similar to what you are doing.
• Don’t take advice from people who don’t know anything about your industry or company.
• People might give you a thought to play with or to evaluate, and not necessarily as advice for you to consider. Pay it only as much importance as you think it is worth.
Written by Rudrajeet Desai