1. Who is giving it? (and Why?)
The first thing to consider is who the giver of advice is - and his/her intentions.
Generally, you want to be taking advice from (1) trustworthy people you know (2) people who know more than you.
Everyone has an opinion, but it doesn't mean you have to listen to them. In times of crisis and problem-solving, be selective about whom you get advice from.
It also depends on your personality type. Are you the sort that is easily swayed? In that case, don't just ask anyone and everyone, and take Google searches with a pinch of salt. Make sure you curate who you are seeking advice from.
If you have a clear head and logical mind, you can cast your net wider. Just make sure you digest the advice and think twice before you act on anything.
2. Is it unsolicted advice?
Did you ask for this advice? Is this advice targeted towards you (and from a trusted source? see #1).
Rarely is unsolicited advice useful. "Kay-poh" people who chime in the conversation, or advice that is hearsay (i.e., heard from someone else / third party who supposedly was in the same situation as you etc.), won't be very helpful to you.
If the advice is personal (coming from his/her own experience) and it's advice you asked for, the probability of it being genuine and useful is much higher.
What to do when you receive bad advice?
1. Ask questions and probe deeper
Career advice is a 2-way street. If you want the best advice, you need to delve deeper and ask questions - as well as provide all the facts.
Often times, bad advice results from the asker not giving the complete picture. If you're asking about how to get promoted at work, but you neglect to mention that your company is facing a cashflow crisis, the advice given will definitely be affected.
Are you omitting certain facts? It may be tempting to omit certain aspects of the story if you were the one in the wrong, but if you're looking for advice to get out of a bad situation at work (that you perhaps had a role in creating), it's best to be honest with the facts in order to get good advice.
2. Thank the person
Even if you disagree, or realize the person has bad intentions, always be polite and thank the person. It's better to avoid burning bridges wherever you can.
Even if the advice is not applicable to you, if the person sharing is being genuine, they have still taken out some time to give you advice. You should thank them for their time.
In fact, sometimes you can't discern if this advice is good or not because you yourself are not knowledgable enough to understand the nuances. Just like how you realize your parents' nagging make sense when you are older, sometimes it takes time for you to grow up and mature to appreciate good advice.
3. Learn and move on
Ultimately, career progression and how to do well in your career is a personal journey. Career advice is multi-faceted. Take whatever is useful to you, and ignore the rest. More often than not, seeking a second opinion always helps, but be careful not to ask everyone and anyone you meet, only listen to trusted sources.
Most people aren't malicious or out to "sabo" you. By looking at who is giving the advice (competitive colleague?) and why they are giving it (conflict of interest?), you can easily eliminate bad sources. This is also where you should take unsolicited advice with a grain of salt, because you never know what the intentions truly are.
The lesson here is in critical thinking. Always consider the advice in totality with the full background in mind and as a two-way street. Actively listen, and digest any advice at least overnight before taking action. You don't want to regret an angry email you sent because of untamed emotion.
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