How often do you seek advice? Do you often get asked give advice? Do you enjoy giving advice?
Advice, noun - "a recommendation regarding a decision"
The definition of 'advice' is "a recommendation regarding a decision". It is different to information, perspectives and is a more directional form of suggestion.
We often search for advice in times of change and uncertainty. We do this because we want somebody else to provide that sense of certainty for us. It feels safer.
As advice givers, we like to help those around us with our greater insight and knowledge. We feel wise when we give advice, and feel valued and appreciated when that advice is taken.
I believe that advice is at best just okay (if you ask the right person, which doesn't usually happen), and at worst harmful.
"I believe that advice is at best just okay and at worst harmful"
My dad (never) used to tell me that if it's worth doing, then it's worth doing well. So I'm going to teach you how to give terrible advice. Most of us are probably seeking and giving moderately bad advice already, but I hope by the end of this we can really take our bad advice to the next level.
How to give terrible advice
So this is going to be easier than you think.
There are three key ingredients to bad advice. And intention isn’t one of them. Even if you are a kindhearted person full of good intentions, don’t worry. It’s very easy to give terrible advice.
The three ingredients to bad advice: the advice seeker, the advice giver, and the advice delivery
Ingredient 1: the advice seeker
This is one of the simplest ways to give bad advice. We have to find someone who’s looking for us to provide them with certainty. To make the tough decision for them. Someone who disempowers themselves and does not own their decisions! They won't be hard to find.
Look out for those that ask their parents to recommend what subject to major in at university, or ask their single friends about how to approach the girl they fancy.
Regardless of the outcome, they’ll never take responsibility of their lives and continue to feel powerless in whatever they do. Mission complete!
But be warned, if they end up not being happy with the results of your advice, they’ll also come blaming you.
Ingredient 2: the advice giver
1. Let our present and past experience get in the way...
of looking at the advice seeker’s particular situation objectively and with empathy. This is easy to do. It's what most of us do naturally.
A broken-hearted and bitter friend telling us, "Don't bother with love. Don't give an inch to your partner, because in the end there's no point because it'll all end in heartbreak." Or someone who had a bad experience at their first workplace advising their younger friends to not be themselves at work and just expect to be beaten down by the corporate machine.
2. Bring your ego to improve your chances of giving bad advice
We need to believe that we know better than the person seeking advice about the situation, what’s important to them and what will make them truly happy. Channel your inner know-it-all.
3. Make sure that you’re not qualified in that specific area
How does this look? For example, I’m a straight man. So I could try telling female empowerment groups and LGBT groups how they have to run their movements. Or comment on how Black Lives Matter should be campaigning.
4. Finally, have no skin in the game.
This is again super easy to do and quite natural to a lot of us. Sit there and tell people what to do and how to do it, all while sitting there doing nothing ourselves.
Ingredient 3: the advice delivery
1. Give advice when no-one’s asked you for it
As with most of the lessons here, this isn't hard to do. Just give in to your natural temptations.If you need inspiration, find role models in your lives. Think of that annoying family member or friend, who always has something to say about everything.
2. Give simplistic advice without much thought or listening too much
Here are some examples, “Just choose not to be depressed. You’re choosing to be depressed right now.” “Just dump him. He’s no good for you.” “Just study business at that school, then you can do what you want.”
“You need to stay in that job for at least a year or else no one will ever want to hire you again.”
Remember that certainty comes in two situations. A complete knowledge or a complete lack of knowledge. Channel that complete lack of knowledge to succeed in giving terrible advice.
4. Finally, and this is a big one, give advice is based off anecdotal evidence
“It worked for me so it will work for you.” Make sure it goes against data backed evidence and research.
I saw a post recently on Facebook, and this guy was an absolute pro at this - we can learn from him. He said to a girl that “It's not depression until you think you have one. One day I decided that I am not depressed, so you should do the same.”
I know irony can get lost on the internet, so let me leave you with three key takeaways:
1. Take responsibility over your decisions.
Seek information and perspectives, not advice. Also, you know more than you think, so look for people who can draw that out from you, rather than those who want to impose their solution on you. One simple indicator is that good people will listen more than they talk.
2. Only seek advice from those who can understand you and are living the life you want
If you’re a woman speaking about female empowerment, don’t take advice from a man. If you’re an introvert speaking about your experience as an introvert, don’t take advice from an extrovert.
3. If a person has a huge ego, don’t take their advice.
Avoid arrogant people. It’ll never be about you.
Do you have any horror stories about bad advice you've received in the past? Share in the comments below!