I have a question for you – where do you go for advice?
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’re saying … Google! But where on Google? How do you know which sites are trustworthy? Now, I can hear you saying, “it depends what I want to know…”. Yes, that’s true for me, too!
For instance, when I want to buy a new purchase (like a new web camera or a mattress or a tea kettle), I look at Consumer Reports and Wirecutter. Those are websites that I trust because I’ve been using them for years, and because they’ve proven to be reliable. I’ve used them in the past, and tested out their advice for myself, and it generally confirmed what they suggested.
But when I wanted to find out the meaning of that red dot next to my name on Instagram this morning, I didn’t try to look for a particular source. Instead, I looked to see whether several websites were saying the same thing, and I trusted that information because they seemed to corroborate each other. The stakes were lower, so it wasn’t as much of a risk. (The number in the red dot is apparently the number of messages I had on my other Instagram accounts.) I tested it out and it made sense.
Who do you turn to when you are facing a major life event – like a medical diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or a divorce? Some people might turn to Google or YouTube, and try to learn as much as they can on their own first. But if you’re like me, when the stakes are very high, you might turn to a trusted friend or an elder – someone who has been through a similar experience.
We all need others to guide us. People who’ve been through a similar experience can tell us what to look out for, and lead us places we may not have thought of ourselves.
But their experience might be very different from ours. The circumstances they faced might be quite different from those facing me or you. So when you are listening to your friends, or your parents or even your lawyer, remember to test out what they are saying!
Credentials are important, but they are not everything. “Bedside manner” also counts. Does this person listen to you? Do they understand – and honor – what is important to you? Surround yourself with people who really have your best interests at heart.
Make sure the people you rely on have values that align with yours. For instance, if you are getting divorce and what you care about most is having a cooperative relationship with your ex, then you don’t want to hire a shark litigator.
Trust, but verify. The people you choose to guide you through any big life event (like a divorce) can make a big impact on your experience – and sometimes, on your future. Make sure they are also the right person for you!