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Why Giving Advice can be a bad thing

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Why Giving Advice can be a bad thing

Postby Winston » Tue May 26, 2009 2:13 pm

To all the wisecracks and smart alecks here who complain that I don't take their good advice, here's some wisdom for you.

This is an excerpt from an ebook you can download at
http://www.real-success.ca/ebooks/101_R ... apters.pdf

Giving Advice to Anyone Means That
You Either Lose or Break Even


One day German poet Otto Erich Hartleben consulted a doctor about his health
problems. The doctor advised Hartleben to quit smoking cigarettes and to stop
drinking alcohol. The doctor added, “This visit will cost you three marks.â€￾
“I’m not paying you,â€￾ retorted Hartleben, “because I’m not taking your
advice.â€￾

Undoubtedly, you have found this out through experience: Most people
won’t follow advice — regardless of how good it is — as was the case with
poet Otto Erich Hartleben. Your advice may very well be helpful, but if it
means that the recipient of the advice must put in some work and effort, he or
she will likely discard it. Giving advice may not only be a waste of your time
and energy — it can be dangerous as well.

It is particularly dangerous to offer advice when the person hasn’t asked for
it. Some people will refuse to take advice regardless of how good it is and how
noble your intentions are. Your relationship with them can get strained to the
limit if you persist. People may not realize that you are trying to help them. On
the contrary, they may think that you are highly judgmental and are trying to
make them wrong. Your advice is likely to be ignored because most people
don’t want to admit they are wrong.

Trying to solve other people’s problems with your unsolicited advice is as
futile as trying to change people. It’s best not to get immersed in other people’s
problems, including those of your spouse, friends, and co-workers. Trying to
solve their problems is tantamount to saying they aren’t capable of doing it on
their own. Benjamin Franklin may have given us the best advice possible about
giving unsolicited advice: “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools don’t take it.â€￾

It may be dangerous to give advice even if it is solicited. The problem is
the advice we give others may be the opposite of what they expect or desire.
“When a man comes to me for advice,â€￾ quipped Josh Billings, “I find out the
kind of advice he wants, and I give it to him.â€￾ Giving advice that people expect
may be a good strategy at times, but it can be dangerous in certain situations.
Taking into account that many people don’t have a complete and sensible
appreciation of their own predicaments, it follows that they may in fact expect
advice that will end up hurting their cause.

Even giving good advice can get you in trouble — particularly when it
involves the truth. Oscar Wilde wrote, “It is always silly to give advice, but to
give good advice is absolutely fatal.â€￾ There is a lot to be said about telling the
truth — but telling the truth in many cases is on the first rung of the livingdangerously
ladder.

For instance, whenever a friend asks you how she can improve the meal
that she just cooked for you, it is wise not to mention the twenty things you
would have done differently. Otherwise, you could end up without an
opportunity to eat any more of the soufflé because you will be wearing it over
the expensive shirt you wore for the first time.

All things considered, giving advice to anyone means that you either lose
or break even. You seldom win. Whenever people accept your advice, and it
turns out to be helpful, people likely won’t acknowledge you for it. They may
not even remember that you gave it to them. Whenever they accept your
advice, and it turns out to be harmful, people won’t forget who gave it to them.
They will probably even resent you for having given them bad advice.

Summing up, it’s best to avoid getting involved in people’s personal
affairs, especially if you haven’t been asked. As a well-balanced individual you
shouldn’t need to inflate your ego by giving unsolicited advice. If you are
going to give any, however, advise the person that it’s best to avoid freely
accepting advice from anyone else — and that includes you.

Whenever you feel compelled to respond to a request for advice, say it
simply. Make it short. Don’t rant and rave. Even so, on extremely sensitive
matters, be sure to duck when flying objects start coming your way.
Last edited by Winston on Tue May 26, 2009 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Winston » Tue May 26, 2009 2:18 pm

Another chapter from that ebook:

No One Can Give You Wiser
Advice than You Can


No doubt you have noticed that it isn’t all that difficult to get advice for your
problems — regardless of the size or nature. To be sure, most individuals will
be more than happy to give you guidance on anything imaginable and declare
that it is great advice. A lot of them have likely adopted one of Oscar Wilde’s
principles: “The only thing to do with good advice,â€￾ concluded Oscar, “is to
pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.â€￾

As a matter of course most people close to you will have opinions on how
you should spend your life. Parents will tell you what you should be doing for
happiness and fulfillment. So will brothers and sisters, not to mention teachers,
friends, advertisers, newspapers, magazines, and television shows.

When I was in my midteens, for instance, my dream was to be either a
schoolteacher or an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going
into engineering because of a school principal’s dubious advice. He figured
that I would make a great engineer because I was a whiz at math and physics.

Boy, was he ever wrong! I ended up dedicating over ten years of my life to
obtaining an electrical engineering degree and working as an engineer in a
corporation. What a waste of my life — given that I never did get to understand
electricity! What’s more, I am organizationally averse, which means I am
happiest and most productive working on my own creative projects on a laptop
in coffee bars, where I don’t have to deal with the hassles of corporate life.

Here’s the bottom line: Whether it’s deciding on how big of a house to buy,
how much money you should save, what career to pursue, or how to raise your
children, you should be extremely careful about accepting counseling from
other people. This is particularly true when you accept advice from too many
people. “He who builds to every man’s advice,â€￾ warns a Danish proverb, “will
have a crooked house.â€￾

The question that arises is: How good is the advice that you receive from
others? Free advice particularly is suspect at best. Artist Anselm Feuerbach
may or may not have been too cynical when he said, “If someone gives you socalled
good advice, do the opposite; you can be sure it will be the right thing
nine out of ten times.â€￾ When people give you free advice, consider their
motives, and what they stand to lose should they give you bad advice. Mark
Twain put free advice in proper perspective: “He charged nothing for his
preaching and it was worth it too.â€￾

In general, you should put more credence in advice for which you have to
pay at least some money. The person who charges you for her words of wisdom
has a reputation to protect. If follows that giving bad advice could hurt her
livelihood. On the other hand, people who give free advice have little to lose
in the event that their advice turns out to be bogus.

Some individuals have an uncanny ability to invite themselves into our
lives with advice that we haven’t even asked for. It’s okay for them to suggest
that we leave our mates or our jobs. If the decision turns out to be completely
wrong for us, however, who suffers? Will they find us another mate or another
job? Of course not. They will go merrily along with their own lives while we
suffer the consequences of having accepted their so-called words of wisdom.

Advice from other individuals may appear very reasonable to them, and it
may appear reasonable to you. Some decisions, nonetheless, are best made
intuitively instead of reasonably. Listen to that inner voice when making
decisions. Don’t become overly logical and practical.

Accepting too much guidance from people can leave the responsibility for
your life in the hands of others. You must feel free to do it your own way. Don’t
allow anyone to make decisions for you, no matter how good they are at
making decisions in their own lives.

“Think wrongly, if you please,â€￾ remarked British writer Doris Lessing,
“but in all cases think for yourself.â€￾ Ask for other people’s advice, give it some
consideration, and then make your own decisions. Since we are discussing
advice, allow me to give you some of my own. My best advice for you is to
never accept anyone else’s advice — after all, nobody can give you wiser
advice than you can.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
User avatar
Winston
Site Admin
 
Posts: 23568
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:16 pm


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