Advice is tricky. Like, hella tricky. How do I decide which advice to consider? Oh and that guilt ridden feeling of… I didn’t take their advice and now what will they think?
We provide some helpful ideas to think about when it comes to the minefield that is the social interaction of listening to and processing advice.
It was well intended.
The first thing I always consider when advice is coming my way is the intention. If this is someone close to you giving you advice, assume the best of their intentions.
This makes the lens with which you receive that advice much more clear and much less defensive.
That’s not to say be completely blind to the idea that someone may have a personal agenda lingering behind their advice, but I find it to be easier for everyone if you bare on the side of giving the benefit of the doubt.
The most important thing to know about the intention of advice:
Just because advice comes from a good place of intention does not mean I am obligated to act on that advice.
Ask and you shall receive.
The next thing to consider is the conversation preceding the advice. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Did I directly (or maybe indirectly) ask for this person’s ideas on this topic?
- Was I complaining about something and this person simply wants to help me be a problem-solver?
- Have I sought advice from this person in the past?
The answers to these questions could shed light on the reason that this person is giving you advice in the first place. It may also help you determine whether this is a topic you need advice on at all.
Mostly, I find that it helps me break down the walls of my own defensiveness. I build those quite well and quite often.
Consider the context.
I KNOW you’ve been in this situation.
You’re receiving advice from someone and all you can hear is the pounding in your head saying, “YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE!”
No joke, I have had to leave a dinner table once because I almost screamed this at a friend. (I may be defensive at times but I also generally show restraint.) Looking back maybe I should have just let it slip out, but that’s another story for another day.
There are times in life that we are going to receive advice that is really intended for someone else. Or the advice-giver is going to be pulling on their own experience more than considering your circumstances.
When you’re deciding if this advice is right for you or worth entertaining, consider the context.
- Has this advice-giver recently gone through something similar?
- Are they speaking more from an emotional place or a logical place?
- Would they give someone else this same advice?
- Would they give that same advice to you in a month from now?
- Is this a topic or realm of life that you respect this person in?
Sometimes you’re going to answer these questions and realize that the context is less about you and more about something/someone else. In that case, hear it out and let it go.
When it IS about you.
Don’t fall into the delusional trap that ALL advice is misplaced. There are times when it IS about you. It may even be difficult to admit that.
When you’ve sought out the advice in one way or another, you know the advice-giver is well-intended and it is genuine advice you may need to hear… process it on your own time.
Listen. Thank them. Tell them you will consider their ideas and then come back to it later on your own. Maybe even revisit it with them at a later time.
Why it is important.
Connection is important for human health and wellness. One aspect of being connected to others is hearing their advice and ideas.
No, you do not have to take action on that advice, but it may be advice to consider. You ultimately make the decisions best fit for you.
Be Balanced. Be Brave, Friends!