Advice is something many people love to share, yet some have a hard time accepting from others, even when it’s sound. Perhaps it’s in our nature as human beings to resist being told what to do by others. If that’s how advice is perceived, no wonder people run from it. Who wants to be told what to do?

The truth is, advice doesn’t have to be a command; it can be a compassionate suggestion imparted by someone with deep knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Advice is a gift, and the ability to accept advice is an important key to success in business.

Seeking and giving advice is central to effective leadership

According to Harvard Business Review, “seeking and giving advice are central to effective leadership and decision making. Yet managers seldom view them as practical skills they can learn and improve. Receiving guidance is often seen as the passive consumption of wisdom. And advising is typically treated as a matter of “good judgment”—you either have it or you don’t—rather than a competency to be mastered.”

Mastering the art of giving and receiving advice creates better solutions to problems, and a transformed way of thinking that helps a person overcome cognitive bias, self-serving rationale, and flaws in their logic. That’s the foundation of a great leader!

Understand that you’re not wired to accept advice

It’s human nature to reject advice. Most people think they know what they’re doing and want to handle the situation on their own. They mistakenly believe they have more control over their situation than they really do, even when they’re in a situation they’ve never faced before.

When you’re running a business, you’re going to face new situations almost daily, and you need to consciously reach out to other experienced business people for help. The people you reach out to for help were once in your position, and soon, you’ll grow into theirs.

Don’t take your opinions too seriously

Advice is resisted because people prefer their own opinions. It’s difficult to listen to someone else’s solutions when their words contradict your beliefs and maybe even your experience. That doesn’t mean what you’re hearing isn’t valid or valuable. It means you’re hearing someone with different life experiences share their wisdom.

The best advice takes you out of your own experience into a broader context of life. A more objective view of your problems can provide deeper insight into better solutions. When you’re attached to your opinions, it’s unlikely that you’ll intentionally seek out this broader context without being prompted by someone else.

Advice doesn’t always need to come from industry experts

Although industry-specific advice should come from industry experts, sometimes laymen have experience that allows them to see what others can’t. Sometimes they can see what industry experts miss because they’re part of the customer base.

There’s some stigma attached to seeking advice on the internet, however, there’s a difference between taking advice from someone you just met on Facebook and seeking out business blogs that exist to help others.

There are also articles online published by reputable brands that gather consumer data and offer unedited advice to other consumers. Today, the popular format is “best of” or “top ten” lists. For example, there are lists for the best cars, articles detailing the best business tools, and reviews for the best software. Although they’re not always written by industry experts, the advice is worth considering because it comes from direct experience.

Applicable to any source of advice, discernment is always the key.

Multiple, opposing opinions can be simultaneously true

Ram Dass said, “across the planes of consciousness, we have to live with the paradox that opposite things can be simultaneously true.” Although he was referring to aspects of the spiritual journey, his statement applies to all aspects of life.

There are multiple paths that lead to the same destination, and multiple ways to travel along each path. It’s wise to listen to the counsel of others, but remember to be a filter and not a sponge.

Strong leadership starts with the ability to consider advice

Your business is only as strong as your leadership. By developing the ability to consider advice, you become a stronger leader and strengthen your business, and that’s the foundation for success.

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Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology, and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities, and worked with over 100 businesses over the course of the last 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking, and skiing with her family.

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