Is It Possible to Ask Too Many People for Advice?

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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When you need advice, how many people should you ask? It’s tempting to get a lot of opinions — say, from friends, coworkers, and mentors — but doing so can backfire. You won’t be able to follow everyone’s advice, of course, and research shows that those whose advice you don’t take may have a worse view of you afterward. They may even see you as less competent or avoid you. (Imagine a senior executive in your company who is pleased that you asked her what to do — and then less pleased when you don’t do it.)

o So the next time you need advice, think carefully about who you’re asking and be transparent about your goals.

o Clarify the reason you are soliciting advice (“I am hoping to explore all my options”) and whether you’re asking others for their view as well.

That way you can set the tone for the discussion and the expectations for the actions you take in the future.

Adapted from “How Asking Multiple People for Advice Can Backfire,” by Hayley Blunden et al.


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