The Two Biggest Mistakes People Make When Giving Advice

I’m not going to claim I give perfect advice, but based on mistakes I’ve made in the past and mistakes I’ve seen others make I’d like to extend some perspective to you offering a couple things to consider when giving others advice.

(1.) Don’t Impose Your Values On Others

This one’s HUUUUGE. Recently I’ve had a friend who has continually pestered me on why I should play soccer this year. He tells me that skipping my senior year of soccer would be stupid. I respect him, and his arguments appear logical, but something he’s failed to consider is my perspective.

He’s projected his values onto my life. Skipping soccer appears stupid to him because he’s an incredible player and it’s his passion. However, what he’s failed to realize is that not everybody loves the sport to the same extent he does. It’s inconceivable to him that I’d prefer to advance my juggling career rather than hang out with the rest of the guys at practice.

In his reality nothing compares to the thrill of taking the pitch so it’s difficult for him to understand why someone would voluntarily elect not to pursue further involvement in the sport. No one can completely empathize with others, but it’s not a bad goal to shoot for.

When someone sees things differently than you it’s usually not proper to immediately lecture them on why they’re wrong. Instead, listen to their thoughts and truly try to understand their argument.

Most of us could use a lot of practice projecting ourselves into others’ circumstances rather than immediately trying to project our values onto other people.

You can still offer others perspective on what you’d do if you were in their situation, but understand that the other person may have different values than you and that you may not understand the full extent of their situation.

(2.) Don’t Give Advice Just Because You Can

This is a mistake I frequently made when I first began writing. I would give advice on things I wasn’t qualified to offer advice on. I think this is a problem many young writers experience. It’s cool to think you know it all. The thing is, you probably don’t.

You can give good advice based solely on research you’ve done. However, it’s difficult to produce anything of true significance until you’ve had firsthand experiences of whatever you’re attempting to give advice on.

Before you experience things for yourself it’s possible to give advice that’s useful on an intellectual level. I know because when I read many of my early blog posts that’s what I see. Advice that is mostly logically sound. However, there are chinks in the armor in much of my early writing and it lacks a real emotion umph. 98% of things sound good, and then I’ll see a questionable theory or statement every several posts.

That’s about as good as things can get, however, when you’re merely theorizing. A direction I’m trying to move towards in future posts is focusing my advice giving efforts on things I’ve experienced myself rather than simply read about.

I’ve already done this with many of my recent posts and videos and I’ve found that by doing so I’m able to produce work that has less chinks in the armor and is much more emotionally charged.

This is a direction I believe you may benefit from moving towards as well. Sure, you could give advice to your friend on starting a business, but would it be worth anything if you’ve never started a business yourself? Is your advice likely to be useful, meaning that it will be significantly more likely to benefit him than detract from his efforts?

Giving advice may make you feel like a good person, but if the advice you’re giving is poor you’re hurting the world more than you’re helping it. Always consider that before you offer others your opinion.

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