The Advice Trap

Be careful! Sometimes people want to blame you for something, but they disguise their accusation as a genuine appeal for advice. Once you start dispensing advice, the trap closes – and you start to look like you’re defending the problem that you didn’t cause in the first place.

I am particularly susceptible to this trap because I automatically interpret all complaints as appeals for solutions. When someone says “I don’t make enough money,” I just sort of translate that by default into “hey, could you give me some advice on how to make more money?”

But often that’s not what people are saying! Sometimes they’re saying, “I don’t make enough money, and I blame anyone who supports the current economic system or any of its close variants” or something like that. So then we’re having two different conversations because the initial statement doesn’t actually track literally onto either of our interpretations. So then naturally they hear my well-meaning personal finance advice as some sort of political defense of a thing they wanted to complain about, and now we’re fighting and I didn’t even realize it.

That can happen by accident, but be careful when people do it on purpose. Not everyone wants solutions.

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