GIVING ADVICE (& TAKING IT) - THE BASIC GUIDELINES
If you’re like everyone else on this planet, chances are you’ve asked someone around you for advice at some point. Whether you wanted some outside input on which first car to get, or how to breakup with your boyfriend... We’ve all looked at someone we trust and asked something along the lines of “What the hell should I do?”.
And on the other hand, you’ve probably also told your aunt to stop giving her dog that stupid haircut. Or told your best friend to wear her red dress for that hot first date.
Because, as humans, we look for validation. Which is why we ask for advice. We also feel valued when someone asks us for our input, which is why we give advice. You think that’s not true? That you're different? I respect that! But ask yourself, why do you read non-fiction books? Why do you use Yelp, or read the reviews before buying a product on Amazon? Or why do you consume editorial news and blogs? All these are just one (or several) mere mortals giving advice and sharing their opinions.
But turns out, like every other thing, giving and receiving advice also comes with its own set of unwritten rules. Or at least, it should. The first thing that comes to mind as I’m writing this is a brilliant televisual moment, courtesy of Sex And The City. They basically explain why you should never tell a girlfriend to leave her husband. If she does leave him, then it’s your fault. If she doesn’t leave him, then she will forever know that you think she should leave him and she can never talk to you again. Either way, you’re screwed!
Even though I kind of agree with that approach, I tend to take it a step further and simply retort that if you don’t want an honest opinion, then why the fuck are you even asking for one?
Which bring me to my first point. Before asking anyone for advice, ask yourself: Do you really want to get honest, unfiltered advice, or do you just want to vent? If you just want to vent, then try mentioning that before telling the story people might be tempted to give you advice about.
Something like “I’m not ready to hear advice yet, I just really need to get this off my chest” works very well. It might seem a tad overcautious, but at least you’re sure of avoiding a situation where you share with your best friend that you saw a weird text on your fiancé's phone, and the answer you get is “I knew he was cheating, he’s such a piece of shit. You deserve so much better!” when the response you really wanted was “Oh, what's going on?… I’m here if you need to talk.”.
Then, when you decide you do want advice, it’s also kind of up to you to treat it properly. And that would be with a grain of salt. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say you buy a book on business in which the author explains how he took his restaurant from a small hole-in-the-wall-with-4-tables to a super glossy establishment with 8 locations across America. And he did all this by inviting upcoming local artists to dine for free at his small restaurant.
Then, the unknown artists became popular actors, performers and singers and they all swear this restaurateur’s food is the best they’ve ever had. So the place is now extremely popular and business is booming.
Now, as areal state agent, you’re reading this and you think “Woah, this is so great, I’m gonna do the same thing”. Not only does it end up costing you a fortune to have celebrities stay in your listings for free, but you end up getting sued for whatever reason and within 8 months, you have to file for bankruptcy. I obviously simplified a whole damn lot here (and know nothing about real estate), but you get the idea. At its most basic form, someone gave advice, you took it, and it really didn't work out for you.
Are you gonna write an angry letter full of insults to the author of the book you got the advice from, or are you just gonna understand that what works for someone might not work for everyone? If you’re writing that letter, I’m sorry, but you’re a delusional lunatic.
If you see things with enough clarity to understand that no one broke your arm into taking that advice, and no one forced you to apply it to your own life, then why don’t you extend the same curtesy to your friend who gave you advice about your relationship?
As a rule of thumb, I would say: If you’re old enough to ask for advice, you’re old enough to hold yourself accountable if shit hits the fan.
The last thing I will say about asking for advice is, don't be the person who constantly complains about a situation, asks for advice, and then doesn't follow it. We all know that person. The girl who comes crying every week because her boyfriend is cheating on her. And every time, you tell her the same thing: Leave that sleaze-bag and find someone who deserves you. But she never listens. And every other week, she comes crying again, asking what she should do. If you're like me, chances are that you're gonna tell her to fuck off after a few times of talking to a wall.
So if you're that girl, save yourself the heartaches of asking for advice and not following it. If you ask and someone gives, and you choose to ignore it, then don't come asking again. It'll save everyone some precious time.
Now, let’s talk about what happens when you’re on the other side of the spectrum. In other words, how to give advice without being a dick. On that part, I’ll keep it short and sweet. Unless someone explicitly asks for your advice, SHUT THE FUCK UP. No one likes sharing with someone who always has the answer to everything and gives unsolicited advice like it cures cancer. One of my favourite quotes in that regard is "Opinions are like assholes". Meaning everyone's got one, you just don't need to share yours with the entire world all the time.
Now let me end this on a little story that illustrates the most important thing when it comes to giving advice (in my opinion). A few years ago, when I was barely in my twenties, I decided I was tired of living in an apartment and paying someone else’s mortgage. So I decided I wanted to buy my own place. I found a condo, my mom came to visit, she said it was nice, she was happy for me. I bought the place, lived in it for maybe 2 years and then had to sell it QUICKLY - shit happens.
Turns out, I could NOT get rid of this place. The market had devalued, which means I was loosing about 40k. It was built in such a cheap and moronic way that shit has started to break after only 2 years. The other co-owners were complete idiots giving me headaches for the stupidest details… You know, the gift that just keeps on giving. In a nutshell, I wanted to set fire to the fucking place. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sell it unless I took a massive loss. I didn’t see the end of it and saying I was freaking out would be an understatement. And you know what my mom told me? She said “I knew it was a bad idea to buy that place”.
That pissed me off so much, I can’t even describe it with words. Let’s just say the apartment wasn't the only thing I wanted to set on fire. Obviously, my response was “Oh yeah? Well if you fucking knew, why the hell didn’t you say anything sooner? Would have saved me a shitload of trouble!”.
That might not be the nicest way to speak to your own mother, but you get the idea. What I was really trying to say is this: If there’s a time to give advice and you don’t, and that window closes and then trouble ensues, don’t, just DON’T go back and say “I knew it”. That’s just like saying “I told you so” when shit hits the fan, which is already so fucking annoying, except it’s even worse, because, well, you DIDN’T say anything.
So I guess that’s it, it’s nothing complicated or hard, really. In fact, we could sum it up like this: Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to, don’t blame people for your shortcomings just because they tried to help, and don’t be the annoying know-it-all who sprinkles unsolicited advice on everyone like fake snow on a Christmas village.
Now that I’m done ranting (phew!), I wanna read your stories. Let's get real about giving advice (and taking it!). What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve ever been given? Do you have any rules when it comes to giving advice like a champ? Hit me up in the comments below or tell me our story on my last Instagram post (about giving advice, duh!) @thehungarianbrunette.
Have a great weekend, guys!!
Love, Jenny xx