How many times have we sat down with well meaning friends, neighbours and they have openly given their advice on any manner of situation you may be experiencing. To use the social media abbreviation, speak IMHO or ‘in my humble opinion’. Or when we face each other it’s ‘do you know what I think’. We mostly want to say no and I don’t want to either! But no, our listener is now turning counsellor and no matter how genuine they think they are they will generaly give misguided advice.
If we look around us at the professional world we see many ‘Advisers’. In the Worlds political stage we have peace advisors; in the business world we have financial advisors, safety advisors, security advisors. Most of these have trained for years in their chosen field. If we were to take the safety advisors as an example, we see they have studied in college and then spent years in industry before being able to advise on their specialist subject. They can also draw from test results to qualify their advice. Common sense dictates that if you work in a foundry you will need protective clothing and follow safety procedures carefully, our own inbuilt biological defences knows that if we get a little bit to close to molten metal we could suffer more than a slight discomfort.
Financial advice is a little more difficult as the markets and economics are ever changing and there are far too many parameters to ensure total success. Hence they spend day after day pouring over the data they need.
But when it comes to day to day advice everybody is willing to give it a go.
Two quotes come to mind, the first;
‘For advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise’.
A quote from, Gildor to Frodo, in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
The second is from the musical ‘ A fiddler on the roof’
and the song ‘If I were a rich man’.
‘they would come to me for advice, and it wouldn’t matter if I was right or wrong, because I was a wealthy man’.
Advice on life, from others seems to be given freely and abundantly. We all like to believe we know more than the next person and are willing to tell them so. But advice has two players in the game, the giver and the receiver.
The giver is seemingly the least complex of the two but we must study the person to understand the full extent of the advice. Their own view on life has a lot of bearing on the advice they give. The more analytical person could give advice based on a methodical approach to the problem as if it were a puzzle to solve, yet the person who lives a more emotional life, may just give advice on a gut feeling of the situation. Their own feelings and belief will always sway the advice they give you. A very basic example is if you were to ask me, ‘shall we have coffee or a cup of tea’? I will always say coffee as I detest the taste of tea.
I simple example I know, but what about another more reasonable scenario. You firm has offered you a much higher paid job but you have to move to a City or in the country, away from your friends and current life. One will advise you to go the other to stay and both their arguments will be valid and make sense.
The receiver of the advice, the second party in this example. They are full of complexity that will take far too long to explain fully. Some have already made their mind up and are really only searching for confirmation from as many people as they can. Others really don’t know and want to be told what to do. These can also portion the blame onto others if something were to go wrong.
But we must all understand that advice is just that. It is not instruction as many feel it is, giving orders that must be followed and then becoming upset when it is ignored. Also it is not to be given flippantly, advice carries weight and that must be considered.
Listening is an art, I believe there are two types of listeners. ‘Those who listen to understand, and those who listen to reply’. We are all both, but the former is much less practised. Many people will form their opinion of a situation within minutes if not seconds from first hearing about it. Then they will jump in with what they believe is a similar scenario within their own life and explain how they got through it. Much of the time all people want is to be listened to without interruption. But his so rarely happens. And those who give advice want to give it and be thanked for it, believing they have solved another problem due to their superiority.
For those blessed to have children, do you remember the countless bits of advice you received from every single person you met on how is best to bring your child up. If you were to follow them all it would be impossible. I have four children aged between 6 and 14. Very rarely I get asked what is the best thing to do. My answer is always the same. ‘As long as you’re not being cruel physically or emotionally with it you have made the best start. Always show it you love it. I am afraid you are going to do what everybody else has done, muddle along as best as you can.’
Till next time.