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Get more out of feedback by asking for advice instead

In our quest for professional development, self-improvement and growth, we often seek external input to refine our skills and make better decisions. Traditionally, we've turned to feedback as a means of evaluation and improvement. However, studies suggest that asking for advice may be a more effective strategy for personal and professional development.


**1. Advice fosters collaboration, feedback often invites criticism**


When you ask for feedback, you're typically requesting an evaluation or judgment of your work or performance. This can create a dynamic where the giver of feedback takes on a critical role, potentially leading to defensiveness or a breakdown in communication. On the contrary, when you seek advice, you're inviting the

other person to collaborate with you in finding solutions and exploring possibilities.


Research by Harvard Business School's Francesca Gino and Wharton School's Alison Wood Brooks suggests that individuals who seek advice are often perceived as more competent and open to learning, whereas those who seek feedback may be seen as less capable or insecure. This perception can positively impact relationships and encourage others to provide valuable insights.


**2. Advice is solution-oriented, feedback can be vague**


Feedback often tends to be general and lacks specific guidance on how to improve. In contrast, advice tends to be more action-oriented and solution-focused. A study published in the journal "Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes" found that advice-seekers receive more detailed, actionable information than feedback-seekers. This specificity is crucial for making targeted improvements.


**3. Advice promotes perspective-taking, feedback may be biased**


Feedback can be influenced by personal biases, misperceptions, or subjective opinions of the giver. Advice, on the other hand, encourages perspective-taking. When someone offers advice, they consider your situation and provide recommendations based on their expertise and understanding of your needs. This can lead to more balanced and well-informed suggestions.


Research conducted by psychologist Nicholas Epley at the University of Chicago suggests that people often underestimate the value of seeking advice from others and overestimate the value of their own opinions. Seeking advice allows us to tap into a collective wisdom that can surpass our individual knowledge.


**4. Advice encourages proactive learning, feedback can be passive**


When you seek advice, you actively engage in a learning process. You identify a problem, gather information, and actively seek solutions. In contrast, feedback is often received passively, and the responsibility for improvement may not be as clearly defined.


A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that individuals who sought advice perceived themselves as more committed to implementing the suggestions received, compared to those who received feedback. This increased commitment can lead to more significant personal and professional development.


In conclusion, while feedback can have its merits, seeking advice appears to be a more effective strategy for personal and professional growth. Scientific studies have consistently shown that advice-seeking fosters collaboration, provides actionable solutions, encourages perspective-taking, and promotes proactive learning. So, the next time you're looking to improve, consider asking for advice; the results might pleasantly surprise you.

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