They say that knowledge is power. Why do they say that? Well, from a business perspective, there is an angle that most haven’t perhaps considered yet.

Misinformation, unfortunately, is very common is our society, especially since there is virtually no perceived consequence to lying and deceiving, and governments and politicians are at the top of the dung heap of lies. What we think is true often isn’t, and the wrong information can hurt more than it helps.

For example, North Americans who talk about Africa and have never been there are like those who talk about Freemasonry and have never been in a Lodge. I lived in South Africa and traveled in Africa for 45 years, and I was the Master of Masonic Lodge, and I can tell you that most of what you see on the Internet about Masonry and Africa is garbage.

But for those intelligent people who know that they don’t know (consciously incompetent) about a subject, place or organization, and realize that believing YouTube and the Internet is like believing those anonymous proclamations scratched on public toilet walls, there is power and value.

First, when you are genuinely interested in learning about something you know nothing or very little about from someone who does know, you show respect, pay a compliment, and build a relationship. Good business is built on good relationships.

Secondly, as an outsider, you will often see opportunities that insiders don’t see. And business is all about seeing those opportunities and filling needs, isn’t it?

Thirdly, it expands our understanding of how people in those groups and from those places think, what is important to them, what they want, what they will buy, and what they need. And that is the basis of “finding a need and filling it.” We can hone our pitches and presentations, products and packaging, whether it is high tech, slow tech, or no tech, accordingly.

Fourthly, it expands one’s frame of reference, one’s gestalt improves, one can adjust business practices and strategies to realities, and as our weltanschauung becomes more accurate and fact based, our decisions and the consequences thereof are better.

So next time you meet someone from a different place, religion (I’m a Mormon, and I won’t even start on that one), industry, group, or philosophy, I encourage you to be sincerely interested, open, helpful, non-judgmental, and positive, unless their beliefs clash with your values, in which case you probably won’t be doing any business with them anyway. Beliefs and values are different, of course.

Robin Elliott LeverageAdvantage.com