How to take advice in 5 easy steps

Look, I don’t know if it’s ’cause of the full moon or all the planets in retrograde, which I’ve been told can have an effect on something, but the past week or so in the advice forums I spend time in have gone bananas.

So, I thought I’d take a quick moment to share some of my thoughts on how to take advice.

Step 1: Ensure that what you wanted was advice.

Some people mean well and start advising you but that’s not what you asked for. You were either venting, or presenting a problem expecting no solutions. If you are receiving advice and you didn’t want any – say something like, “I appreciate your effort in trying to offer solutions, but I was just venting. Thanks.”

Step 2: Know the difference between wanting advice and wanting validation.

You can tell the difference when someone’s advice makes you recoil and fight back ’cause they’re siding with “the other side.” Now, if you didn’t ask for advice, you can use the phrasing in step one to get out of hearing it. But if you DID and you don’t like it, understand that what you asked for was advice but what you wanted was validation.

Nobody is obligated to validate you, though – so don’t get upset with the person who disagrees with you. Just say “thanks for sharing your thoughts” and end the conversation or ignore it completely if you want in the case of a public forum post. In a one-on-one conversation the latter is kind of rude.

Step 3: Lean into the parts that you don’t like hearing….there may be truth there.

So let’s say you’re actually open to hearing other people’s honest thoughts about your circumstances and you don’t just want them to validate your “side” of the story if they disagree with you. When they say something that makes you feel like “no, wait…that’s not how it is!” take a minute to think about it. Is it possible that the conflict in and of itself is rooted in a similar misunderstanding with someone else who interpreted things the way your adviser has? Did your adviser hit upon a buried truth that maybe you’d repressed or pushed back and didn’t realize was causing unresolved issues?

Or maybe not. Maybe they’re way off base. For that, go to the next step.

Step 4: Triage: Clarification, Conversation, or Move on

Sometimes the advice-givers are way the fuck off. I think this usually happens when there’s either a HUGE misunderstanding about the situation you’ve described, or when they’ve been in a parallel or similar situation that went south and they are ascribing their past traumas onto you (or someone identified in your conflict). Suddenly, they’re raging at you (or on your behalf) about something that either didn’t really happen or wasn’t really a big concern for you.

You can try to clarify your position or add more details. You can try to talk it through to determine if they’re passing a bias onto you that should probably be disclosed, or you can just nope the fuck out. Like, some people are really shitty at giving advice and you ….YOU have to be able to self-edit what you take on board emotionally and what you discard.

Step 5: Don’t make any promises.

When you’ve gotten all the feedback, don’t feel obligated to make any promises that you’re gonna go do the thing that someone told you. Take some time to process everything that’s been said and…if you do it, and it works out, give them the feedback. In fact, whether or not it works out – thank the people who have spent the time trying to help you (if you asked for it. Otherwise, see number 1).

But yeah, if it works and you happen to run into them again – let ’em know. It’ll probably make them feel pretty good.

Alrighty. Now that’s out there. Hopefully everyone will take a massive CHILL for a bit. Yeeeesh!

2 thoughts on “How to take advice in 5 easy steps

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