Today I will write about giving advice. This topic is close to me, because somehow, for reasons beyond my comprehension, people always feel fit to ask me for advice. I regularly get emails or phone calls from friends and strangers asking for my advice and opinions about some matter.
Before we go further, let me get two things straight. First,
I HATE GIVING ADVICE.
IN 99% OF THE CASES, I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO GIVE ANY ADVICE.
During my ride back from office today, I thought about this issue at length. In particular, I dwelled on three questions: 1) why do I hate giving advice? 2) what do I hope to gain if I am the one asking for advice? 3) why do people come to me for advice?
The answers are 1) read on, 2) read on, 3) no idea. For no particular reason I get more than my fair share of requests for advice. Maybe I came across as some one to turn to for advice. Entah ler.
Why Do I Hate Giving Advice?
Ok, move on to the first question: why do I hate giving advice? There were two answers I managed to come up with during the short commute.
First, because I am not qualified to give advice 99% of the time I was asked to. This is clear enough, and need no explanation.
Second, because I have heard terrible advice given so many times masquerading as wise and thoughtful counsel. And I have seen so many people fall for bad advice it pisses me off to no end. That’s why I’m getting out of this advice-giving business.
Let me elaborate. When you give advice, you are shouldering a huge responsibility. It is not a soapbox where you can portray yourself as The Great Sage of the Mountain or Dewa Pencerahan Agung and talk endlessly about how wise you are and how experienced you are and how others should be like me, me, ME! When people ask for advice, they are actually asking you to help solve their problems, not to give a lecture about “the Great Me”.
Let me stop you before you say “hey, it’s just an advice. It’s up to the person to actually carry it out or not.” This is where people get it wrong. When people ask for advice, they are desperate about their problems. People would not just stop you on the street one day and ask you for advice about how to live a better life. Most of the time, when people ask for advice, they are already in deep shit. When someone asks your advice about money, it means that his financial situation is terrible (otherwise, why bother?). When someone is “considering a career change” and asks for your advice, it means that she hates her job and her asshole boss. Nobody would swallow their ego and ask others for advice unless they absolutely have to.
And what they hear from you, more often than not, is what they’re gonna do. Do you seriously believe that people will actually ask fifty people for advice, and then weigh the pros and cons of each individual advice, do a logical analysis and synthesis, and make an informed choice based on evidence and logic? If so, you are irreparably stupid. People who ask for advice will often act on the advice they receive, for the simple reason that they are desperate, and having a lone voice of support is enough to make them agree with whatever advice you’re dispensing.
So remember that, when people ask for advice, usually they will do whatever you tell them especially if the advice confirms what the person believes in. This is called confirmation bias – people listen to what they want to hear. The people giving the advice should take it as a grave responsibility, for their mere wag of the tongue can affect the well-being of another person. So do not give out advice easily.
The average person asks only one person for advice before they make a big decision. Very few people actually take the trouble to get a second opinion, much less a third or a fourth. They usually go to their most trusted confidante for advice and what the said confidante says becomes action. This is another reason why advices are not to be dispensed so easily.
I apologize if I sound a bit alarmist, but please for the love of God don’t give out advice so easily. It pisses me off when people who are unqualified to give advice, especially in matters of great importance (religion, family, jobs), give out advice with great confidence and cockiness as if they know what they are talking. Try reading a blog written by a 19 year-old girl (you know, the one with blinking texts and 73 images of teddy bear on the front page), and then imagine that this 19-year old girl is somewhere giving an advice about life and love and the secret of everlasting happiness to her best friend. You’d say that her advice is cute, but laughable. That is what your advice amounts to. You are unqualified to talk big, so keep your advice-giving to small things which you know something about, like what brand of laptop computer to buy.
I cannot emphasize this enough: don’t give advice about the big, important things. You are not qualified. All readers of this blog are in the 18-30 age range, no pakcik, makcik, datuk or nenek visits this site as far as I’m concerned. This is my message for you young people. When people ask you for advice about the important matters like marriage, family, life, jobs, etc., ask them to get their advice from older people. Don’t simply blurt out smart-sounding potato mush just for the sake of giving advice. Be humble and admit you know nothing about the matter. Even if it’s your best friend to whom you swore your loyalty and cannot refuse any favour, REFUSE IT. Young people like me are naïve and we simply do not know much.
This entry is getting too long, so I’ll stop here for now.
I will write more in the next entry, to answer question 2: What do I hope to gain if I am the one asking for advice? Also, I am going to write an entry called “5 Reasons Why Your Advice is Poor”.