“You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.” John Steinbeck.
My Advice? Take It Or Leave It!
- Why do we seek advice
- Who do we seek it from
- And how likely are we to follow the advice given
When we ask for advice are we more likely to take it, or leave it?
This isn’t a researched-based article on the subject of advice – just the opinion of someone who has both offered and taken their share of advice over many decades.
My theory is that we seek advice when we face a dilemma of some sort: nothing more profound than that. While mulling over the options for solving the problem – an activity usually undertaken in those early, sleep deprived hours before dawn – we often narrow the options down to just two possible solutions.
Facing Two Solutions
I used to watch a Game Show on TV called ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire’. The competitor, chasing a large amount of money by successfully answering increasingly difficult questions, had the option of phoning a friend for advice once they had narrowed the challenge down to two possible answers. With the potential of taking home a million dollars, they were not going to phone just any friend; they would be very selective about whose number they dialled. Firstly, they would want to be reasonably sure the friend would pick up the phone, and secondly, they would want to be sure the friend was some sort of authority on the question being asked.
The same philosophy applies to seeking advice on any significant question. Trying to solve problems on our own can be a lonely and debilitating exercise, so it makes sense to find someone who will provide the support we need. The segment in the TV show was called ‘Phone A Friend’. And that’s what we usually do when we are forced to make a difficult decision outside of the game-show TV world (read – Real World!).
So What Is Real?
If we made a list of our personal characteristics and values and compared them to those of our friends, we would probably see more similarities than differences. So it would be a reasonably safe bet that we would turn to at least one of our friends for advice. Just like in the TV show, we’d be using availability and depth of knowledge on the subject as criteria for selection of which friend to call.
So you make the call and your friend answers. You outline the problem, describe the possible solutions and wait anxiously for your friend’s response. After some probing questions for clarification and a few moments silence for pondering the points, your friend delivers the verdict. You listen, take in the advice, and thank your friend for their time and consideration.
Later, alone with your thoughts, you smile contentedly. The decision is made and you feel that a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Your forward direction is signed, sealed and soon-to-be delivered. The world is a better place and your sleepless nights are a thing of the past.