He speaks with great authority, on things he knows NOTHING about

Image: Medienstuermer

Some people are excellent communicators. The way they deliver words is compelling and their ability to motivate those they speak with is exceptional.

Which is usually great. If the person sharing ideas with us is a subject expert, we gain mightily from their guidance.

The challenge comes when they speak with great authority, on things they know nothing about. When they voice an opinion as if it were a fact. When they’re as compelling as ever, yet they motivate us to do something that’s absolutely wrong.

I was thinking about this earlier, when I received an email from a reader. I thought you might find it useful, so here’s what happened.

When things go wrong

My reader recently had a legal issue with a web designer, regarding a site they’d developed for her business. She wanted some advice on what to do and spoke with a business adviser, who had previously helped her with (great) general business advice. My reader took his advice and sent an email to the web developer, using the wording her business adviser suggested.

Nothing happened.

So she spoke with a lawyer to see if she could “get things moving”.

The lawyer read the email and sadly, the email content has ruined any chance of her getting the resolution she hoped for.

This is from my reader’s email, published with her permission:

“In the past, his advice has always been excellent. That’s why I called him. […] He speaks with great authority, on things I know very little about. I now know he also speaks with great authority, on things he knows nothing about“.

Note: I made a similar mistake myself (2 actually), when I started in business. I wrote about it here.

Obviously, we need to remind ourselves to only take advice from people with relevant experience / qualifications. It’s also a good idea to consider who we currently rely on for advice, and whether their advice is working for us or not. Daily, I see the damage caused when business owners take bad marketing advice from general business advisers and generic online courses.

Yes, expert advice will come with a fee attached. However, that fee is usually way lower than the price we pay for taking bad advice.

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