On Advice

Photo by Erica Marshall

Stay away from advice!

After long years receiving and giving advice, my suggestion is:

Don’t give advice and even more important don’t take it


unless you asked for it.

Advice is always easy to give. The world is full of people who are messing up – at least from your perspective. It’s very easy to suggest ways that they can improve what they are doing and it feels very satisfying because you are helping people who need your help.  Or do they?

The problem here is that:

  1. They might not know that they need advice.

  2. They might not care to make any changes.

  3. You might be totally wrong.

  4. They may not value your judgment

  5. They won’t take it anyway.

Think back to the last time someone gave you advice. Did you ask for it? Did your respect it? Did you follow it?

Butt out!

Most of us don’t really want advice and if we do, we are choosy about who we ask to give it. It has to someone whose judgment we respect and who we think will carefully evaluate our specific situation. And it has to be someone who is willing to listen to us before solving our problem Finally, when we ask someone for advice, it must be from someone who has proven that they know something about the decision and with some proven success with this situation. If it’s about a marriage, we don’t ask advice from our twice-divorced Uncle Joe.

It is easy to find advice. The media are full of it – in any sense you choose. So are your friends and family. But mostly, we don’t want advice. We just want a chance to talk through a problem, or a decision we have already made

Sometimes, however, you know that you have to do something different. You know that you are on a wrong path but you don’t know how to get off. Who do you listen to then?

My advice – and remember that I just advised you not to take or give any – is nobody. You probably don’t know anybody with any experience that would be useful. What you need is knowledge And my suggestion?

Read a book.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Karen June 18, 2009, 6:58 am

    My advice? This is great advice! People usually don’t listen or care about your/my advice anyway… they just want someone to listen to them. Listen, listen, listen and let them solve their own problems. If they get too negative, stop listening, now you are just letting them wallow in self-pity!

    Great article as always!


  • Long Huynh June 19, 2009, 6:33 am

    [And my suggestion is to read a book.] Or a few good blogs.

  • Ralph June 20, 2009, 8:50 am

    It’s that wallowing in self-pity that sucks me in every time.

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