Business, Leadership, Let's Talk Business

Listen to What You Just Said

By , June 17, 2019

Most of us are great at giving others advice, but bad at taking our own advice. But you're not doomed to a lifetime of making this mistake. Here's how to avoid it.

A few months ago, I was experiencing a challenge in my business; I had been going back and forth on different possible solutions, but when all was said and done, I felt stuck.

A few weeks into this challenge, I got a call from a friend and fellow business owner. He asked me for my advice on an issue he was having in his own company and wanted my opinion on what the best path forward would be. The answer seemed pretty clear to me, and I guided him the best I could. After about 25 minutes of talking, we hung up the phone.

And then it dawned on me. The advice I gave him would also solve the challenge I was facing myself.

I am willing to bet that something like this has happened to you, too. Maybe you see someone trying to structure their business a certain way, and you know it’s not going to work. Or you see someone trying certain strategies to grow their business that, for you, is raising red flags. You know what these people should be doing. You can give them advice for hours on end. But when you find yourself in the same situations, you end up making the same mistakes.

The bottom line? Most of us are great at giving others advice, but bad at taking our own advice. But you’re not doomed to a lifetime of making this mistake. You can train yourself to give and take the advice you would give others. And the first thing you need to know is this: There’s nothing unique about your challenge.

One of the reasons we don’t take our own advice is because we decide that for us, this advice doesn’t apply. Because we’re different—because our situation is special. We’re so wrapped up in the details that it’s hard to see that the fundamental, underlying challenge is actually a very common one. If we’d just be able to view our situation objectively, then we would know exactly what advice to give ourselves. But instead, we dismiss that advice as irrelevant.

How do we prevent this from happening? Here are 3 Practical Ptex Pointers that will help:

1. Analyze your problem from an outsider’s perspective.

Imagine that your friend is experiencing the same problem, and ask yourself: What questions would you be asking them to get the full picture? Who else’s perspectives would you be considering? What are the possible outcomes of each course of action? What compromises might you recommend?

2. Use the “Best Friend” trick.

Next time you face a hard decision or confront a dilemma, don’t ask yourself, “What should I do?” Instead, pretend you’re giving advice to your best friend. And then actually do that thing. This simple little trick may feel a bit odd at first, but it will help you adopt an outsider’s perspective and make you more likely to take your own advice.

3. Control your language.

When doing the above, there’s a research-proven trick that will help you be even more effective. Temporarily remove the word “I” from your vocabulary. Instead, use words like “he”, “she”, “him”, and “her” to describe the situation, as if you’re actually talking about someone else. (Skeptical? A study showed this made people 35% more likely to offer themselves the same good advice that they gave to others.)

So next time you’re in a tough situation, imagine yourself as someone else. Think about what advice you’d give someone else in the same situation—then drink from your own wisdom and take your advice.

And here’s my challenge to you: Take 5 minutes right now to try and think of a piece of advice that you gave someone recently that you could apply in your own business. 

Comment and let me know if you did this.


Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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