Being in the business of advice-giving, we are continually thinking about the most effective way to advise our clients. How do we communicate most effectively? How can we increase the success rate of the implementation of that advice? How can we learn the art of when to speak and when to listen? I think a few tenants of advice-giving can serve us well in solving this puzzle.
- Advice is Personalized – Generic or generalized advice is normally only effective for items that are universally accepted as social norms. For example, “don’t speed” or “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” Personalized advice considers the individual factors of your situation. For instance, “diet and exercise” is a good mantra for losing weight, but the type of diet and amount of exercise needs to be tailored to individual needs to be most effective.
- Advice Comes After Listening – Listening first is necessary to give quality advice. We need to understand the context of the situation and the nature of the person across the table, before having a well-founded opinion that accurately reflects the many factors involved. So, in theory, “spend less than you earn” is a wonderful philosophy. But we must keep in mind the individual values, goals, and resources of a client. Those factors will ultimately determine how best to optimize savings and cannot be learned without first listening closely.
- Advice Considers Options – Instead of jumping to the first conclusion, good advice considers many options before reaching a path to pursue. After listening and personalizing the situation, all potential paths need to be considered, filtering each one through the lens of the goals of the person looking for help. To avoid analysis paralysis, we need to stay focused on the ‘best’ advice, rather than the ‘perfect’ advice when weighing options and factors.
- Advice Reaches a Definitive Conclusion – Good advice doesn’t leave multiple options on the table at the end of the conversion, but rather reaches a definitive path to pursue. With a multi-factored situation, such as financial advice, we have to be concrete with our actions but we must also be sure to not hold onto them too tightly if situations change. We want to be confident in our conclusion today, but open to evaluation into the future.
How else can we filter good advice from bad in our everyday lives?