April 22, 2014

2 Signs of Good Advice



The other day my friend and colleague, Sebasti├ín Lora, visited Barcelona and we met for a stimulating Gin&Tonic. He asked for my opinion about a workshop he's preparing for Toastmasters. I gave one at last year’s District Conference, so I shared my experience.

Afterward, I wondered if I’d given useful advice. I began to reflect on criteria to recognize good advice. Family, friends, colleagues and professors whose counsel I deeply value came to mind. What do they have in common? Two things stood out:

Questions instead of recommendations
are a sign of good advice.

1. The people who give me good advice never say: “you should do this”. They have in common that they ask questions that help me discover what to do. This is a sign of wisdom.

They know no two situations are the same, that their experience is always their experience. And if they have a pretty good idea about what to do, even so they use questions to help me see the way, not just the finish line.

Tell me how – now that’s priceless!

2. Good advice consists of “how” not “what”. The people who've helped me improve and grow are those who've suggested specific alternatives.

General advice is easy to get -- and give! -- because it requires no real effort: do this, do that, be this, be that, blah, blah, blah! But find someone who tells you HOW  you can do it, who suggests SPECIFIC  ways and you've found a true treasure!


The world is full of people with a message.
There are few with a method.


You know you've found a good adviser when you hear questions that help you decide rather than recommendations that tell you what to do.

You know you've found a good adviser when you hear specific suggestions to improve instead of general guidelines to follow.
                                                                                                     
Did I live up to these criteria with the advice I gave to Sebasti├ín? Only he can say. J I do remember asking questions and giving a few tips. But there's no doubt: next time I'll do better following these two principles!

How do you recognize good advice?