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Why asking for advice is good for you

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Why asking for advice is good for you

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In a social business the sharing of knowledge is a fundamental aspect of its allure.  The sharing knowledge side of this equation is something of a no brainer.  You get to show off how smart and talented you are, which in the old zeitgeist was a sure fire way of achieving success and prestige in your organisation.

Asking for help however has significantly less cachet.  After all, if you’re asking for help or advice on something, it’s a sign that you don’t have the answer or knowledge yourself, which will no doubt make your seniors doubt your capability, right?  Well, no.

A case in point is a 2010 study conducted by Ithai Stern and James Westphal into boardroom success.  They wanted to test particularly how flattery can help people climb the greasy pole towards a top position.  They uncovered seven distinct types of schmoozing that worked well, but what do you think was top of the tree?

That’s right, the most effective form of flattery was to ask someone for their advice.  As Benjamin Franklin said, the best way to win friends is to appeal to their pride and vanity by constantly seeking their opinion and advice, and they will admire you for your judgement and wisdom.

Now it should be said, that Stern and Westphal also revealed that your advice has to be sincere for it to work.  If you are an obvious faker then your attempts will backfire horribly, but if you honestly have a problem, the best bet is to seek out advice for it.

The reasons are clear.  If someone takes the time to offer up their service to you, not only are you giving them a chance to show off their knowledge, but they’re also investing time in you, and as a result, they want to see that investment as a good one, therefore they’re more likely to look upon you favourably than not.

So next time you need some help at work but are worried about appearing foolish, bite the bullet and just do it.

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