How do you know if you are really dealing with an expert?
- What is your criteria for defining someone as an expert?
- Do you check references before you hire?
- Do you three quotes?
- Do you ensure you have a consulting contract in place?
- Have you ever been let down – meaning that your expert wasn’t able to deliver on what they promised?
Here are some great ideas to follow for when evaluating whether to hire a business expert:
1. Real experts focus on their field, not themselves.
There tends to be an inverse correlation between the amount of someone’s true expertise, and the amount of time that person spends discussing him- or herself. For real experts, the joy is in the work itself—that’s why they get out of bed in the morning. Real experts are deservedly proud of what they know, but their interest is less self-focused and more other-focused – about how their work and the important information it reveals can benefit others. Fake experts, on the other hand, seem to star in every single story they tell.
2. Real experts have no trouble saying: “I don’t know.”
They’ve got a clear sense of how far their expertise extends, and where it ends. They never, ever want to mislead you. Therefore, real experts will be the first to admit when the question you’ve just asked exceeds their personal knowledge. If they’re really good, they’re likely to introduce you to someone who does have a good answer for you. Remember your days in grade school, and the embarrassment a student felt when he or she had to admit to the teacher, ‘I don’t know?’ Real experts have overcome that reluctance.
3. Real experts demonstrate intellectual honesty.
They can put their own expertise in perspective – in terms of its importance in the world, and the quality of the evidence supporting their points of view. Crucially, real experts aren’t afraid of evidence that contradicts their beliefs or their work. They recognize that the role of experts is to engage in debate, not to suppress it. Real experts can be skeptical about not only others’ ideas, but also about their own. Conversely, fake experts’ openness to contradictory ideas resembles that of my 2nd grader, who’s been known to cover his ears and sing “lalalalala!” for minutes on end while his older brother tries to tell him something he doesn’t want to hear.
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