6 Intuitive Ways To Discern Good Advice From Bad

Let’s face it. If you’re looking for advice, you’ll find no shortage of it—on how to build your business, negotiate a winning deal, build an ideal partnership or raise your kids.

We’ve been given our share of conflicting advice. While some of it’s probably been helpful, there’s been some advice you later regretted following. Join the club. Learning to discern good advice from bad has come from following too much of the latter. So here’s two cents of advice to you…

1. Seek advice from multiple sources.
If everyone you know is telling you to do the same thing, it’s a sign that either a) it’s a wise thing to do, or b) your network is very “same-same.” To ensure it’s not the latter, make sure you reach out to a diverse pool of people for their opinion and guidance.

2. Listen with an open mind.
Other people will have experience, insight and expertise that you don’t, so extract as much value from it as you can. There’s no point reinventing the wheel or making the same mistakes they did. However, as you listen, also consider how their situation, goals and personality differ from your own. A winning formula for one person doesn’t not always work the same for another.

3. Consider self-interest.
People always speak from some concern, and I like to know they’re speaking from a concern to serve my own best interests ahead of their own. So just consider what agenda or bias might be driving the advice they are giving. That doesn’t mean it’s not still good advice, but it might.

4. Examine the shoulds.
When giving advice, people often tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Just be mindful that the “shoulds” often reveal a lot about another person’s values, desires, rules and the broader norms of their group. So instead of using the word “should,” replace it with the word “could.” It removes the judgment that one course of action is superior to another (e.g., from home-schooling your kids to only wearing red). Rather it’s just different than (with different pros and cons), not necessarily any better than.

5. Tune into your intuition.
Once I feel I’ve got a broad enough base of advice, I then take some time to tune into my gut and ask myself, What feels right for me, right now? When it comes to a big decision in life, sometimes you have to stop all the analysis and just ask yourself what feels right for you. If a certain path feels right, then it probably is. Sure, do your research, talk to people and get advice. But in the end, go with your gut and trust your intuition—it rarely lies and can be an invaluable compass as you go through life.

6. Give yourself permission to make an imperfect decision.
If you see too many people putting unnecessary pressure on themselves, it is because they feel they have to make the perfect decision. The best advice that can be given is to make the best decision you can with what you know right now, and if down the track you come to a point that you think you need to adjust course, then do so. Just don’t spend too much time trying to find the perfect person to give you the perfect advice. It could be a long, frustrating and futile wait.

Never give anyone else the carte blanche authority to decide what is best for you, because no one knows you (or appreciates your circumstances) better than you.

That’s all the advice that can be given. Take what works. Ditch the rest!

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