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"Stupid Advice"

Oscar Wilde said he always passed on advice because it was
of no use whatsoever to him!

He was a wise man. But we're all wise, aren't we?
So why not give advice?

Simple: People usually do know what they're supposed to do
in any given situation, yet for one reason or another,
they're not doing it!

It is frustrating to look at someone else's dilemma and
watch them fail to take what seem obvious remedies.

Remember, everyone is unique, with complex conscious and
unconscious motivations. There are many factors to which the
advisor is not privy.

We usually just want confirmation of a decision already
made. Many of us don't trust ourselves enough to make
decisions. Psychologists say we often make a decision within
a few seconds, but feel the need to go through some checking

Pressure on someone to change their decision may work,
especially if they are unconfident. But your preferred
course of action may not suit them for hundreds of different
reasons. They are NOT you and you are NOT in their shoes. It
can even lead to disaster.

Feelgood satisfaction for the advisor is not a healthy
motivation. It's unethical to give inappropriate advice to
make yourself feel powerful or needed.

And advice is often manipulative.

My friend was having a party and couldn't decide whether to
fill the house with flowers. A third friend launched into a
whole complicated monologue about the cost of the flowers,
the work involved arranging them, and so on.

The party giver's cat wandered in. I said I wouldn't pet it
because I am allergic to long haired cats. The advice giver
immediately sympathised.

'Oh, I am allergic to so many things, I have to avoid cats,
dust mites, pollen... you name it!'

She reddened and suddenly went very quiet. Her 'advice' was
based on the fact that large number of pollen-laden flowers
would have spoiled the party for her!

An honest response would have been: 'flowers would make it
hard for me to come to your party...'

I don't give advice to psychotherapy clients. We often need
a range of options to process. I just support them in coming
up with options, that's all.

Expert opinion is valuable 'but the giver needs to detach
from the outcome.

Practical advice is different: if water is pouring out of a
burst pipe you need the person who knows the location of the

But if someone asks for more abstract 'advice' I'll first
ask what they think they should do, and if they're stuck,
I'll say, 'well, you might want to look at... etc'

That leaves it open. Because hey, if it all goes wrong I
don't want the responsibility of having made the decision
for them!

Rhiannon Hill is the author of "10 Stupid
Things That Can Screw Up Your Life" Get the
no-bull self-help book that tells it like it is...

About the Author
Rhiannon Hill is the author of "10 Stupid
Things That Can Screw Up Your Life" Get the
no-bull self-help book that tells it like it is...

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