The unexpected benefit of asking advice

Reluctant about asking for advice? Maybe you think you’ll appear less competent…?

A 2015 research paper, published in Management Science, looked into the effects of asking advice.

They unearthed some surprising benefits.

Seeking advice from others helps:

  • find out where the power lies in an organisation;
  • strengthen social bonds by making the advisor feel affirmed;

And here’s the most unexpected benefit…


*the seeker of the advice actually appears MORE, not less competent

(Don’t take the piss though. Generosity isn’t a bottomless pit.)

Before you rush off and seek guidance for every nook and cranny of your life, the research cites some nuances.

1. Individuals perceive those who seek advice as more competent when the task is difficult rather than when it is easy.

❌Don’t ask the CIO how to switch on the company laptop before you press the ‘on’ switch –

unless you show evidence of trying all the obvious ways.

2. When people seek advice from experts rather than from non-experts or not at all.

❌Don’t ask Shana in Marketing about Risk Protocols.

However, you can ask her who may know about it.

3. Your approach to this particular person increases in validity when you give a reason for asking them.

For example:

  • they’ve found a technical solution to a complex problem;
  • there’s something about their leadership style you admire;
  • they’ve expertise in an area in which you need guidance.


So remember, asking advice can increase your credibility – not reduce it.


But when it comes to giving advice that’s not been requested, the outcome might be completely different to what you intended.  You’ll probably recognise this scenario: it’s why many couples break up and friendships crack.

Your Action:

  1. Who could you go to for advice?
  2. Next step: ask it!

Note what happens as a result: you get the advice; you don’t it but it builds a connection; they remark, “What you asking me for?”.  Maybe something totally unexpected unfolds.

Do let me know what the specific outcome is…in the comments below ⬇️


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