There’s a BIG difference between opinion & experience.
Often, a person offers an opinion but states it as if it were an experience. Many people give advice without distinguishing its quality.
You can determine the quality of the advice you receive by simply asking: How do you know that?
The explanation should give you a good idea as to where the advice sits between opinion and experience. If someone has been through the same situation and appears honestly successful, then you can make a pretty safe bet the advice is based on fact.
Here’s how I rate the quality of advice…
- Direct experience—the advice-giver was successful, has been doing it for years, offers many variations, and can distinguish many nuances in the situation
- They were taught by a known expert
- They talked to someone with expertise who learned through his/her own direct experience
- They observed someone else apply it and succeed
- They read it in a book
- They overheard a conversation
- It seems like a good idea
Above all, the advisor must clearly understand your situation and objectives.
A good sign is that he or she takes the time to ask a variety of questions.
The ease with which the advisor asks uncomfortable-to-answer questions is a plus.
One who leaps to solutions is dangerous.
Remember to ask, “And how did that work for you?”
Even if they weren’t totally successful, you can still benefit from the experience they did have by asking, “
What do you think would have made a difference?” and “Why do you think that would have worked?”