“Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.”
Lord Chesterfield, British Statesman, Diplomat, Wit (1694-1773)
Advice has at least two sides to it, maybe three. The three previous posts looked at “Giving Advice”.
This post deals with the flip side – “Receiving Advice”. Advice is something we all have to deal whether it is wanted or not and whether it is asked for or not. The following guidelines can be used in all situations, but if you did not ask for the advice and do not want it you won’t need to go as far into them.
Control your emotions.
When the advice starts flying in your direction your feelings may react quicker than your mind. You didn’t ask for advice so why is he on his high-horse dishing it out? Does he think you are stupid and can’t figure things out for yourself?
Doesn’t he know he’s intruding and showing disrespect? How can he think he understands your real feelings and thoughts on this complex issue? You know best and don’t need anyone’s help right now.
Don’t let your emotions take control. You may say something too quickly that hurts or embarrass the giver. Take the high road and hold your tongue, especially if you value your relationship with the giver.
Listen patiently and use the Sufi principles.
If you aren’t ready for advice, it could be tough to curtail your annoyance. Pause and put the brakes on your urge to be sarcastic. It’s better if you just let him go on. No matter how annoyed you are, follow the Sufi principles and be kind. When he’s done, say “Thanks. There’s really no need to do anything right now.”
Later you can decide if you will use the advice, save it, or dismiss it. Listening is a worth-while skill to develop. It’s the key to effective communications.
Engage as a rational third-party.
You are lucky to know people who care and are willing to help you. If there are relationship implications, put them behind you and pretend you are a rational third-party. As a third-party you can ignore bias or concerns associated with loving and caring responsibilities or expectations. This may seem hard-hearted at first, but it’s necessary to understand the facts and practical considerations.
Consider the competence of the source(s)?
Is the advisor sufficiently competent? If you are after financial advice would you go to someone who is always broke and in debt over their head? Probably not, unless your approach to success is to find out what doesn’t work and do the opposite! That’s not a direct or sure way to determine what choices you must make.
Instead, talk to someone who is credible. Some of the questions to ask to assess their competence are:
- Are they a credible expert?
- Do they have a good reputation in this area?
- How did they acquire this good reputation?
- Do they have considerable experience and proven success?
- Are they well-educated in this area?
- Can they explain what made them successful? Are they conscious of their competence as opposed to just being lucky?
- Are they easy to understand or are they far too technical for you?
If you are unable to find a specific match to your needs you will need to generalize and rely on someone considered to be wise, intelligent, practical, and mature.
Consider the quality of the advice?
After assessing the individual you need to do the same with the actual advice or ideas suggested. Some of the questions you could ask are:
- Is there anything harmful physically, mentally, or emotionally about these ideas?
- Are these ideas fully thought-through?
- Are they based on high quality research and not just guesses or unfounded opinions?
Consider your chances for success in implementing the action plan?
More questions to ponder:
- Do you understand all the options?
- Can you think it through yourself?
- Can you reasonably implement the action steps?
- Are the chances for success high?
- How will you know if you are succeeding?
Trust your intuition to tell you when it’s time to “flow”.
Effective living is about “internalizing” as you try to determine what to do. Listen to your gut; it will tell you if it’s time to move ahead or if you need to find out more. The nineteen rules of effective living might have to be re-visited.
Aim for “flow” – when your heart, mind, body, and soul are in harmony. You are bound to succeed!
“Seek advice but use your own common sense.”