Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bad advice and how to avoid it

I thought about titling this post 'The time I my Mum convinced me to get a perm' but then I realised it was 1998, it grew out quickly enough and I've blocked almost all traces of it from my memory.

It speaks volumes about the company I keep that I am sorely lacking in bad advice anecdotes. There is no time my friends told me it was a good idea to send my boss a Valentine's card, no 'lime green looks so good on you - buy that!' and no misguided investment suggestions.

I used to counsel young people and learnt a lot about what it truly means to be in the esteemed position of advice giver. When someone wants advice, what they usually need is someone to listen, someone to acknowledge their situation and their feelings about it, and to help them get to a place where they decide for themselves what the outcome should be.

To me, the worst advice is unsolicited, based on what another person would do in your situation and crammed full of clich├ęs.

Unless someone asks you for your advice/recommendation/opinion, don't assume they want or need it. If you've got advice you want to give, ask some probing questions and see if your input will be appropriate.

Unless they ask 'What would you do?' don't get all 'Well if I was in your situation, which I'm not, but if I was, I would definitely quit my job/cancel the wedding/order the fish'. People handle situations differently, encourage them to think about how they'd feel about the possible outcomes. Which option will make them happiest, safest, most proud of themselves?

And please, I implore you, don't say the grass is always greener on the other side (possibly the most pointless comment of all time).

Having said all that, this didn't stop me from accosting a women in the book aisle in Tesco two days ago and telling her that she should definitely pick a copy of Gone Girl. So maybe not all unsolicited advice is bad. Unless she hates it, in which case I am the worst!

What's the worst piece of advice you've ever received?

This post is part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge


  1. I'm sure Gone Girl will go down well Holly ;)

    I think anyone working in social media will have been in receipt of immense amounts of unwanted, terrible advice. Luckily I think people develop pretty sound BS-detectors quite quickly.

    The worst piece of advice I've ever received probably has to be...


    "Don't study journalism, you don't have what it takes to go out and chat to/interview people"

    Disclaimer - I never became a journalist, but without studying journalism, I probably wouldn't have fallen into social media, so it worked out well ;)

  2. I think this is all very good advice. And I think book reccomendations are generally good.

    A (now former) friend told me to go more slowly with Dave, and to 'grow up' and realise it wouldn't last if we go serious so quickly. We'd been going out a month, and he gave me the spare key to his flat so I didn't have to wait about when travelling down to see him.

    We've been married almost five years.