Date: 03/06/2015 | By: Liz Painter

There’s a knack to finding the right person for you to bounce ideas off and help with your decision-making process, and things you can do to make the relationship more successful – our sounding board “cheat sheet” will help.


Ask yourself these questions before you start using someone as a sounding board…


Is this person objective?


It’s helpful if the person you’re talking to can be objective and isn’t personally affected by the things you want to talk about. For this reason, it’s good if you can talk to people outside of your immediate family. A parent or spouse may want to help, but they may not be the best person for the job. (NB Some spouses make brilliant sounding boards – you know your own situation best.)


Along the same theme, while colleagues and staff may be a good choice to brainstorm with at times, it’s always good to have someone to talk to outside of the business for an impartial view.


Do they have the right outlook?


You don’t want to be mulling things over with someone who’s going to bring you down, so it’s important to find someone upbeat to bounce ideas off. On the flip side, you might want to avoid excessively optimistic people who think that everything will always go to plan. Ideally you want someone who can take a balanced view.


Can I trust them?


It’s great if you can chat to someone who genuinely has your best interests at heart. You need someone who will listen to all your thoughts and ideas and give you unbiased help. If you’re talking about staff or other potentially sensitive issues, you also need to know you can trust them to keep your conversation confidential.



Where will you meet?


Sometimes getting out of your office or home can really help shift your thinking and enable you to come up with great ideas, or think through the answer to something that’s been puzzling you. Try walking and talking somewhere scenic, or chatting in a café you wouldn’t normally frequent. Taking yourself out of your usual environment will free up your thinking.


How does it work?


Remember that this isn’t about your companion giving you all the answers and telling you how to run your business. It’s more about them letting you talk, challenging you and enabling you to think things through so that you come up with the answers yourself. It’s not always easy, but it’s a worthwhile process.





  • The person you use as a sounding board should be objective and trustworthy
  • Meet them away from your usual surroundings to free up your thinking
  • Remember the purpose of this relationship is not for someone else to make decisions for you. The intention is to help you come up with the answers yourself.