Eric Karjaluoto

Shut Up and Listen

I author a blog called ideasonideas and readers sometimes ask me for advice. The questions range from how to improve a portfolio to how to land new clients. I responded to as many of these requests as could, but in time found myself asking why. I felt my suggestions were helpful, but few acted on them.

Recently, I’ve been on the other end of that equation. A prominent start-up guy has given me feedback on a project. Additionally, an editor and production team are helping me write a new book. In both instances, the advice received wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.

My knee-jerk response was to say, “No—you don’t get it…” and then explain what I had in mind. This soon gave way to realizing that they did “get it.” (And that they were generous enough to speak their minds.) So, I stopped talking and just did what they said I should. These people know more than me in their respective areas. It would be stupid to not follow their recommendations.

What’s strange about advice is that many ask for it, but don’t really want it. Instead, we’re looking for words of encouragement and a pat on the back. These are fake niceties that send us off in the wrong direction. Useful advice can sting. The question is whether you allow that momentary discomfort to shut you down or move you forward.

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