advice-240x300Leaders make decisions daily and know the value when they listen to others. They weigh their own opinions with advice from others.

Whether it’s a big or small decision, someone will be ready with well-meaning advice. Whether or not you take it depends on a few factors.

“To use advice when growing your business you must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, the good advice from the bad,” says Matthew Swyers, contributor to Inc.

He shares some pointers on how to separate quality advice from that you should avoid.

Be Mindful of the Context

Great advice can come from anywhere, from the cafeteria to a bar. “But great advice rarely comes at a bar at 2 a.m. after a night of tequila shooters,” says Swyers.

It’s important to understand the bigger picture. It determines the weight you should put on the advice given.

Be Mindful of Unsolicited Advice

Swyer suggests people be especially mindful of unsolicited advice.


Because their advice is typically off-base and driven by a need to hear themselves talk. Take it with a grain of salt because you don’t know their motivation.

What is the Motivation?

Ask yourself a few questions to determine the motivation behind the advice: What is their end game? Are they trying to help determine if your concept can work? Or do they have an ulterior motive?

“Often the most valuable advice you can receive is from a potential investor or venture capitalist as they want you to make money, and they want to as well,” says Swyer.

Watch Out for the Know-it-Alls

You've probably met a handful of these know-it-alls throughout life. No matter what the subject matter is, they have the knowledge, but ask yourself this: Is it reliable?

Swyer suggests you do the following:

Listen politely then simply inquire as follows: That's great stuff. Thank you. Did you read that somewhere or how did you come by this?

If they give you a legitimate answer, perfect. If they give you a blank expression, you know not to take their advice.

Look at Experience

We typically solicit advice and feedback from people we trust, whether they are colleagues, friends, or family. Just because someone is successful, doesn't mean they are experienced in your industry.

“That is not to say that their advice may not be valuable, but again it must be understood that these are people who have not done what you are doing,” says Swyer.

Sage advice can go a long way, but leaders can’t listen to everyone. Some people love to give advice, but keep in mind all of it isn't necessarily good. Learn to determine what advice is good and what is not.

What else do you  consider when someone offers advice?

photo credit: Under 30 CEO


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