The third post in this week about strategy: the ability to seek advice from others. This is the summary:

There are a lot of people who know more about a topic you’re struggling with. You should carefully select the right people to talk to, take the time to listen to them and apply the lessons learned.

What most people don’t know is that listening to advice is actually a skill and that it is important that you take the time to work on it.

Three parts:

1. Selecting the right people

It’s easy to go to the people who are naturally biassed towards your opinion (like friends and family). To get effective feedback and guidance, it is essential that you take the time to pick a person with enough authority to help you with the question at hand. Preferably someone who has dealt with the same type of situation before.

2. Take the time to listen

We all have the tendency to prefer our own opinions over those of other people. We also tend to think we have all the answers. When you’re listening to people giving you advice, train yourself to listen intently and to really consider whatever is said. This is hard work and will cost a lot of energy. On top of this, defensiveness about your own views is almost inevitable: know that it will arise, know how to recognize it and to deal with it. Defensiveness is not helping you get the most out of the advice.

3. Apply the lessons learned

This doesn’t say “apply the advice”, but the point here is that you should be doing something with the offered advice. Minimally, you should create an overview of the different parts of advice offered and see if this gives you more clarity. You should also learn from the experience, because if you go and ask for lots of advice, but never implement any of it, why are you spending the time?

There is a lot more to say about this final part, but the first two are the most important. As soon as you’re open for advice and select the right people, applying will get much easier.

If you want to learn more about listening to advice, this HBR article is a great start, so I can recommend that one. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the ability to take time to think.