If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that you’ve received advice at some point in your life. Perhaps it was your parents talking to you about how to act in public, or maybe it was someone at work telling you the best way to deal with a specific client. Advice is generally well-received, but there’s always a chance that somebody gives you bad advice. Getting bad advice can have a negative impact on your life, so the question is, “when should you take advice from people?”
Separating the good from the bad
It’s usually quite easy to separate advice into good and bad categories. When the advice is helpful, it educates you, makes a lot of sense, and can even change your perspective on something.
On the other hand, lousy advice can usually have the opposite effect. It can be something that you don’t agree with, it could be malicious, or it could be part of the other person’s own agenda that clashes with your values.
Now that you know what to generally look for when deciding when you should take advice from people or not, let’s look at more ways to differentiate between great advice and bad advice? Look for a few red flags that alert you to avoid listening to certain people, and also watch for a few good signs to tell you when it makes sense to follow advice.
Does the advice come from someone with experience?
Advice ought to come from someone’s personal experiences with something. Not only does it make them more qualified to talk about it, but it also shows that they’re talking about what they’ve learned, rather than guessing what someone else did or a fictitious situation.
For example, if they open up about things nobody ever tells you about life, based on their situation, it can be a lot more trustworthy if it comes from someone who hasn’t personally dealt with the matter. However, it can seem a little strange when it comes from someone younger than you. But, remember, we all are on this journey in life and are at different points in it, some going further at a younger age.
In short, advice is best when it comes from people who have experience in the subject or area that they’re talking about. If they’re telling you to do something that they have never done themselves, it can be difficult to trust in their opinion. In this case, seriously consider whether or not they deserve your trust.
Does the advice come from someone who you can trust?
There are times where random advice from people can be helpful. They don’t need to be your friend, you don’t need to have a 10-year long relationship with them, and they don’t even need to know your name.
However, those situations are few and far between. It’s far more common to receive good advice from people who actually care about you.
For example, do they have your best interests at heart? If you’re speaking to a supportive friend or family member, there’s a good chance that they do.
If they have a similar goal to you or have the same values as you, then they can also be considered trustworthy. However, if you’re speaking to a colleague that might eventually want to seek a promotion and be your boss, their interests can be a little muddied.
Similarly, are you asking someone who has experience? If they don’t, you should probably ask someone else or take their advice with a grain of salt.
Also, consider whether their advice has been helpful in the past. If you’re speaking to someone that has given you great suggestions before, there’s a good chance they are trustworthy.
However, if this person has never given you any opinions before, and they’re telling you to make a drastic change to your life, it might be a red flag to be cautious about following their game plan. Think about their possible motives before taking any kind of action.
We usually ask for advice when we already know the answer
There’s a quote from Erica Jong, a famed American novelist, that says we usually ask for advice when we already know the answer to something but wish we didn’t. If you already know what’s best for you, but you still ask someone for an answer, then what you’re really looking for is some kind of confirmation.
It takes a lot of mental energy to look deep into your own thoughts to uncover what you truly believe.
So, the next time you ask for advice, consider what you’re really asking and why you’re asking it. If you already know the answer but just want someone to tell you differently, then your reasons for asking for advice might be a little misplaced.
Facing the truth about ourselves can be difficult, but it’s important not to stray too far from what we really feel.