Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Advice

Advice is...complicated. It's complicated on both ends, too.

To give advice, you are generally telling somebody else, "this is what you should do." You have all the best intentions. You want them to do well. You want them to succeed. You are confident that your advice will yield marvelous returns.

But if you give advice under the expectation that the receiver will follow it, then you are basically writing that person's work for them. You are robbing them of the experience. And depending on how strongly you feel about your advice, you may be offended if others choose not to take it.

To receive advice, especially if you sought it out, puts you in a potential bind. Most people already know the answers to their problems (or at least what they are going to end up doing) when they ask for advice. What they really want is confirmation. If the advice you receive doesn't confirm your plan, then you're still probably going to do it, but now you're going to feel worse about it.

The best advice is usually Socratic. Find out what the person wants to do, what results they expect, if their logic makes sense. If it doesn't, there should be a rational explanation why it wouldn't work and ideally a better alternative. This will circumvent all of the main issues and landmines involved in the world of advice giving.

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