Want a bit of advice?

The other day Christopher Demers blogged about advice and consent in HR and the need for us to accept that our advice won’t always be taken on board, but that advising is our role. If you want to lead and run the business then go do that.

Interestingly, the next day on the radio, I then heard thoughts about advice and that we’re inherently not very good at accepting it. We either hope it reaffirms what we already thought the answer should be, or we just plain ignore it! Look at all the ‘we told you this would happen…’ that’s going on around the flooding. Or, taking it to really old skool levels, Adam ignoring the advice from God not to eat the apple!

And yet these days we’re surrounded by and actively pulling on sources of advice from online content all the time. So we clearly want it!

So are we really happier and more likely to accept online advice than human?

Could this be because it’s non-threatening coming from a phone/tablet/computer? It’s not judging us. It’s not going to affect any performance appraisals. It allows us the time to read, absorb, mull and then come to an informed conclusion.

There’s neuroscience evidence – but of course we’ve known this for a long time anyway – that if you put a person in a situation to give them feedback (the potentially most extreme version of advice!) and the way you do it causes them to feel threatened, they’ll go into fight or flight – they certainly aren’t going to be hearing that ‘advice’. So maybe there is something in the non-threat angle of computer advice.

But is this risky advice to take! How do you know what you find online is true? How can you trust it?

There was a debate the other day with scientists worried about scientific research being posted online and commentable-on. Along the lines of ‘all sorts of people will be able to pass opinion or comment without being qualified to do so. But the people reading those comments won’t know that’.

As human beings, trust and relationships are really important to us. And we will continue to need advice/opinions to grow and succeed. But as time progresses will we still be able to trust what we find online? Or will internet content be put in the advisory dog house? This could then see people return to human interactions to seek advice from trusted sources.

If so, we’d better get practicing at making human advice much more hearable!

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