Even if you believe in the whole “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” mantra, sometimes you’d just rather hold your tongue than look stupid. New research suggests, however, that you’ll appear more competent to others if you ask for advice rather than keeping quiet.
Picture: JD Hancock/Flickr
Researchers from Harvard Business School and Wharton School did a series of studies asking volunteers to ask for advice from their peers (or not) and then rate how competent they think they appeared to the other person, as well as rate how competent advice-seeking groups seemed.
In short, participants were afraid asking for advice made them seem dumber to the other person, when that actually is not the case. When you ask advice from someone, it flatters them and reflects well on you, Time summarizes:
The researchers concluded that people’s egos are boosted when they’re consulted and asked to dole out advice, which in turn leads them to think more highly of the people who’ve just boosted their egos.
Essentially, people are so flattered to be asked for advice that their heads swell a little and they think of themselves as smart; that reflects well on the advice-seeker who is in turn believed to be smart enough to recognise their game. So take our advice: the next time you’re itching to ask for help, do it.
Otherwise, as Time quotes RuPaul:
Quick Reminder: Your fear of looking stupid is making you look stupid
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) January 2, 2014
Smart People Ask For (My) Advice: Seeking Advice Boosts Perceptions of Competence [Harvard Business School via Time]