Everyone at work faces the issue of either giving
or receiving advice, if not both, on a regular basis. Sometimes the
advice given and received is good, sometimes it isn’t.
So how does one tell how to dispense or receive advice, and what to do with it?
There are really two elements to advice. There is the content of
the suggestion itself, the actual advice or opinion that is being
offered. Second, there is the context, which involves the source of the
advice and the knowledge base from which the advice comes.
In general, we find that most advice falls into at least one of
about eight categories, which might be of some help the next time you
and advice cross paths. There is:
- Career advice. This is the tip that comes along from a
colleague or friend about what your next career move should be. The
danger here is that the advice is based primarily if not solely on
information you have relayed to the advice-giver, which might, in
itself, determine the advice coming back.
- Office politics advice. This might be guidance in how
to best handle certain personalities involved in a decision process.
Our national research shows that the two leading causes of negative
office politics are personalities and gossip.
Sell-service advice. When considering advice,
consider the motives behind it. If the advice given primarily helps the
dispenser of that advice get ahead and is not necessarily as helpful to
the recipient, the advice itself has to be carefully evaluated.
- High-level advice. This can be the big-picture view,
which might be missing in a decision process, as the individual gets
too caught up in the tactical. At times, an outsider’s perspective and
counsel from a higher plane can provide a broader context in which to
make a better decision.
- Too high-level advice. This is at such a high level
that it becomes irrelevant. For example, while well-intentioned, a
person trying to decide where to take a sales prospect for dinner that
night might not at that moment need advice on global strategies for
closing large deals.
- Solicited advice. This is the type where you really
do want another’s viewpoint of either your situation or what you should
do. Of course, it is expected that you will heed this advice, since you
went out of your way to ask for it and someone went out of their way to
give it to you. They reasonably will expect feedback on your ultimate
- Semi-solicited. This is when you unwittingly solicit
advice by relaying a situation to someone. While not seeking any
suggestions, inevitably the listener feels compelled to start his or
her next sentence with: “Well, my advice to you is” or, “Well, if you
want my advice, you should…”
- Unsolicited advice. In many ways, this is the easiest
to deal with, because it is neither desired nor relevant. One caution:
there could be a wild card, good piece of advice that comes along every
once in a while in this category.
So now can take my advice and categorize it to deal with. Or not.