Advice: How to Give and Receive Advice and Is It Worth Doing?

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  • 9 min read

Dear friends, I am, perhaps, not one of those who like to “expose” and “open up the abscesses of society”, but the topic of advice, mostly unsolicited, is a question from which everyone is already a little stuffy, and someone should open the window. So, let’s talk about it today. Of course, this will not be the first and hardly the last time this topic has been raised.

I do not know why it is so. Surely, there are connoisseurs of other cultures who will say that there is such a thing all the time. I am not a psychologist, not a culturologist or an etiquette specialist. I am just a fierce advisor (I want to believe that I am in remission) and also a victim of fierce advisers, and therefore I want to share my thoughts and observations on this matter.

So, what is advice? No matter how you wrap it up, no matter how kindly you give it, unsolicited advice is a firm conviction that you know better. So hard that you can’t just keep it with you. When do you want to give advice? When you are sure that you know how you can correct or improve what has appeared before you.

I know from myself how difficult it can be to resist it, but friends, let’s be honest with ourselves and with each other.

The advice is only relevant in 3 situations:

  • When you are asked about it (and then with some reservations).
  • When you work together on a common result.
  • When you are an expert (real, not homebrew) and it is obvious to you that what is happening poses a serious danger to the life, health, or, for example, the well-being of the person being gifted.

All. Yes, in fact, that’s all, there are no other excuses for imposing on strangers or even close people your authoritative, expert and most proven opinion. All of ours are “to protect from a terrible misfortune” or “to prompt so that a person does not have to stuff bumps” or “from the side it is better to see, and then he will be grateful,” often only sheep’s skin, under which a real wolf is hiding.

Why Do We Love to Give Advice?

More often than not, we sincerely think that we wish well for the one we give free and such appropriate advice. In practice, more likely something of this happens:

  • We demonstrate our superiority (we know better how to do it, we understand the issue better, we have the best taste).
  • We want to be right (and the gifted, of course, not).
  • We want to be needed and useful, and for this to receive gratitude and “curry favor”.
  • We want to control other people.

Or do we simply consider others as some kind of imbeciles who are not able to choose the color of lipstick themselves and draw up a sequence of necessary actions? Or pay for your mistakes and gain your experience.

And it is difficult to understand which is worse – advice to loved ones, with whom, it seems, and more is allowed, and sincere interest in the result is obvious, or to strangers whose affairs do not concern us at all. Everywhere the same thing – the thirst for control, elevation above the object of advice, an obstacle to human development.

Usually, there is very little awareness in all this, hardly anyone clearly sees this whole chain and purposefully does so. Although, of course, there are evil goblins who come to stab us with their “IMHO” and spoil our mood by saying that “they personally think that the previous hairstyle suited us better.” But let these comrades remain behind the scenes with all their unresolved problems and deep complexes.

And those who seemingly come with good should remember that even our kindest advice, our especially valuable opinion, our critical remarks “for the good” are all extremely harmful and destructive activities.

Why Do Most Advice Provides Harmful?

Oh yes for a variety of reasons.

  • Often, we just run to someone else’s territory so as not to deal with ours. We switch from what we really should be doing, overestimating the importance of the other person’s situation to us. And all this in order to not notice how we are doing nonsense, instead of doing something useful to solve our own problems. It seems that we are busy with something very important and, in general, are altruists to the bone marrow, instead of our daily life we ​​save someone else …
  • We see the echoes of our situation in the situation of another person, project and, as it were, solve our problem, without changing anything in reality.
  • We take on a piece of responsibility for the other person’s decision. Even if he asks for it, and even more so if he does not ask for it, we take away from him the resource for growth and development, not allowing him to independently go through the path prepared for him. By the way, the situation is completely different with paid expert consultations. Contacting a specialist is an independent step that brings a person closer to solving his problem.
  • We do not have complete information, so any advice may be inappropriate, and may lead a person who is not too confident in his own opinion further from the correct decision. In addition, we are all very different, we have different tastes and visions, different values, so we advise based on the picture of the world, which may not coincide with the picture of the world of another person.
  • Criticism, which many believe is also a form of advice, can hurt so much that a person generally quits doing what he did, what gave him joy and promised great prospects. The degree of sensitivity is different for everyone, my students in the courses, for example, are very afraid to go out to the world with their thoughts and ideas in their own blog, because they are afraid that an outsider will think wrong about them and say it out loud. Do not be “outsider”, do not clip the wings of fledgling birds.

How to Advise Correctly? Or How to Stop Doing It?

I talk about this so much because I myself am inclined to criticism and advice, and I struggle with it every day. I don’t even have a doubt why so much advice is poured upon me – to learn by trying on these situations. Therefore, I am sincerely grateful to all the uninvited counselors for a life lesson. I am sure that they themselves will quietly leave my life when I learn not to go into someone else’s.

But what about all the same if the council strives to jump off the tongue? This is what I try to do and what I advise to you:

  • You can ask if the person wants to hear your opinion. Respect the answer “no”, indicate your willingness to talk about it if his desire changes, and no longer pester.
  • Use expressions like “if you want to know more about this, here’s a great link” and “I’ll just leave it here, and remember that I will support you no matter what you do.”.
  • In my life there was a situation in which it was so and so with me.
  • Compliment sandwich – do not forget to first mark and praise all the good things, and only then move on to what you think needs improvement. Make it clear to the person being gifted that, on the whole, you are delighted with him and the fruits of his activity, and your advice is not from the category of “how to make candy out of yourself,” but how to improve even more what is already beautiful. End the same on the positive. If you are not happy and think that everything should be done the other way around, why are you bothering at all? This whole story is not about you and your advice will still not be useful.
  • And you can also print your advice, if it happens on the Internet, polish the text, re-read it, and then … close the window. Actually, this is the best way to feel very smart and at the same time not trample in someone else’s personal space in dirty shoes.

How to Take Advice or Not to Take It?

The last question remains – what should the “receiving” side do? How not to spend too much mental energy fighting advice and how not to hurt the goodwill with your harshness.

In general, it seems to me that the best answer to any advice is “thank you.” And in general, this is the best answer to everything in this life. What will you do next with this is your own business? Whether to spend time and energy on comprehending someone else’s advice, on arguing with the advisor or asking him in more detail is up to you. It is possible that something important can come into our life in the form of unsolicited advice from a stranger.

Of course, some people take our “thank you” as an invitation to further participate in our destiny. Snap back, get nasty, send a smiley with a chicken, etc. etc. you always have time, and whether you need it, your conscience and upbringing will tell you.

Is it worth it to try to change you by trying to change someone else? Is it worth reading morality and explaining why coming to you with advice is very tactless and completely unacceptable? “Thank you for the advice, but it will be more useful and interesting for me to walk this path on my own”, in my opinion, an excellent answer, and if you have better ideas on how to respond to advisers and in general why the need to give advice sits so firmly in us, then welcome in the comments, in this post you can and should advise.

And if I have not convinced you that in most cases it is better to leave unsolicited good advice to yourself, I propose to recall a cartoon from our childhood about a hare who was fond of this business. Remember how sad it all ended for him?