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Seek Advice


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Building rapport > Seek Advice

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Ask other people their advice about things. Pay attention to what they say and show that you are taking their response seriously.

It is usually better to seek advice than opinion. These seem similar but advice is generally preferable, unless you do not know the person and asking advice seems like being too familiar.



Think about the difference and how each of these would feel:

We're designing a new product and are seeking you advice.

rather than....

We've designed a new product and would like your opinion.

Or perhaps:

Could I ask your advice about something? I'm thinking of booking a holiday in Hawaii. What do you think?

rather than....

Could I ask you opinion about something? I'm going to book a holiday in Hawaii. What do you think?


Asking advice puts people on a pedestal, framing them as experts. It values them and shows that you trust their judgement. Most people like this and are very happy to respond.

A subtle difference between asking for opinion and asking for advice is in the locus of control. When you ask for an opinion, the control is still clearly with you. If the other person suggests something, then just by the request for an 'opinion' you have a clear ability to refuse. If, however, you ask their advice, you may still refuse, but it gives them a greater sense of control as you are clearly giving them more authority.

There is also an implied temporal effect. In asking their opinion it appears that you have already made a decision and are probably seeking confirmation, while asking advice suggests that you have not yet made the decision.

Liu and Gal (2011) found that asking advice of customers tended to have an intimacy effect such that the customer feels closer to the company and are more likely to buy or otherwise engage with the firm. Contrasting this, soliciting expectations tended to have the opposite effect, distancing the person from the organization. An effect in market research is that when you ask for expectations, the customer is more clearly focused on their own needs rather than being more expansive in giving generalized opinion.

Asking opinion can be better than asking advice, for example when approaching people in the street, where asking advice may be seen to be rather too familiar. In such situations, some pre-amble and discussion may help you get to the point where advice-asking is acceptable.

See also



Wendy Liu and David Gal (2011). "Bringing Us Together or Driving Us Apart: The Effect of Soliciting Consumer Input on Consumers' Propensity to Transact with an Organization." Journal of Consumer Research: August 2011. Further information:



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