People will listen to, optimistically, about 20% of the advice that they directly ask for. They’ll listen to precisely 0% of advice they don’t ask for.

People told me I needed to lose weight for many years. They were right, but my response was to tell them to mind their own business with various levels of politeness. When I finally decided for myself that it needed to happen, it did.

You shouldn’t take 100% of anyone’s advice, and no one should take 100% of yours. Every life is different, and you can’t possibly know all the exact specifics of another person’s circumstances to the degree that you would need to in order for 100% of your advice to be good for that person. Heck, you’re not flawless yourself, so 100% of your advice probably isn’t even good for you.

How do you maximize the value of the advice you both give and get?

Here’s some advice on that!

  1. Don’t give any advice at all unless asked. (I’m giving myself a pass for this advice being in blog form – if you don’t want it, you’re safe to ignore it. What I mean by this is don’t give advice to a specific person unless they ask. It’s fine to leave advice “laying around” for someone to pick up if they’re interested.) People have to be ready to hear advice, and you can’t make that happen. Contrary to the popular wisdom, I think you can make the horse drink – it’s leading it to water that’s the hard part.
  2. Keep it specific, singular, and focused. If we stick with my assumption that, at best, someone will listen to 20% of what you tell them, then you’re better off telling them the same thing five times than trying to give them five different pieces of advice. If someone has actually come to you with an issue and wants your counsel, then give it to them – on that topic, that specific problem, only. Don’t use it as an opportunity to tell them everything you think they should do – not only won’t they listen, but they probably won’t ask you again.
  3. When you want advice, ask for specific help with a particular issue. Consider your source, and ask the advice of multiple sources if you can. Use the advice to learn from your mistakes when you make them anyway.

That’s it. I’d tell you more, but I’ll wait for you to ask.

6 thoughts on “Advice

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