Ask yourself, “Says who?”
That’s the first thing you should do when you get advice from someone. This is an important question to ask because it will save you a lot of heartache and trouble. Let’s delve into several aspects of what this question means, such as: is this person qualified to tell you what to do, and what is their motive? I’ll share some insights that will help you not only in maintaining strong relationships but also in running a business.
Throughout my life, I’ve become a better person by being willing to take others’ advice when it’s given sincerely. I tend to hope that others will follow the Golden Rule and do unto others as they would have others do to them. With that in mind, I appreciate when people express concerns with me because I know it’s not easy to talk about flaws, whether they are theirs or mine.
It’s often painful to admit that you’re wrong or that you need to improve. But it’s absolutely essential to do so from time to time because how else can you grow unless you replace weaknesses with strengths? I often thank people for their comments on my blog posts, especially if those comments are unduly negative. Even if I think a commenter is being unfair, I can often see some truth in their words, and I try to do a better job in the future.
For example, when I first started the Inventory System Software Blog I was still learning the lingo of inventory management software. Sometimes I drew analogies to things I was already familiar with, like movies. One of my silliest analogies is found in my blog post “What If Darth Vader Had Used Inventory Management Software?” After reading that post, a businessman told me I was a “cheesy” blogger. I have since tamed my blog posts so they’re more focused and relevant to the business world. And that businessman and I are still on friendly terms because I took his input to heart, and he actually did have fun reading my posts.
Is the person who is giving you advice doing it in private or in public? I’ve found that it’s best to give advice in private rather than in front of an audience to avoid embarrassment. If someone tells you, in front of other people, that you need to fix something about yourself, it could mean that they just don’t know how embarrassing that can be or it could mean that they think it’s urgent that you hear what they have to say. I hope a person wouldn’t do that just to be spiteful, but even if that’s the case you can still maintain your dignity, respond kindly, and recommend you find a quiet place to talk.
It’s often necessary to stand firm against opposition. There are times when I just know I’m in the right, and the person questioning me doesn’t see the whole picture, yet. It’s up to me to either explain myself to them to calm their concerns or simply push forward when it’s too difficult to explain.
Even if the person giving advice has good intentions, they might not know exactly what they’re talking about. Try to wisely judge whether or not someone is qualified to steer you in the right direction. It’s not always easy because emotions can get in the way, but if you can rise above your feelings and see the situation objectively, you can usually make the right call.
One of the men I hold in the highest esteem is George Washington. Part of what made him such a great leader was his willingness to listen to the opinions of all his subordinates, no matter how outlandish or contrary to his own preferences their ideas were. This made everyone around him feel like their views mattered. But in the end, Washington made the final call.
Stalwart vs. Stubborn
What does this have to do with running a business? When you make decisions that will have a big effect on your business, you need to be prepared to show why you’re right and why people should trust your judgment. To generate this credibility, you should use hard facts. And where do you find those facts? Inventory management software is a good place to look. It can track your sales, orders, shipments and more, and help you find patterns you otherwise wouldn’t be able to find.
You should also be willing to consider other interpretations of the data. Sometimes your staff can have brilliant ideas that you haven’t considered before. There’s no shame in changing the way you’ve always done things. It doesn’t mean you’ve always been wrong up to this point; it just means that now you have a chance to do things even better and be even more successful.
Try not to burn bridges. Keep lines of communication open by being humble and listening to other people’s opinions. You don’t have to accept everything you hear. In fact, you should be very selective about what you put into action. But always leave the door open to change. Try to notice when you’re being stalwart for what is right and when you’re stubbornly holding on to things that don’t work.
That’s my advice to you. Now what are you going to do?