What makes people think that when somebody shares something on FB they are looking for advice? 

People never ever look for advice. Unless they actually say they need advice. And even then it’s mostly a lie. 


7 thoughts on “Advice”

  1. “People never ever look for advice. Unless they actually say they need advice. And even then it’s mostly a lie.”

    Definitely! The only time people want real advice is when they’re paying to hear it from a professional — such as their doctor, lawyer, preacher, or financial adviser.

    When people ask for “advice” from a “peer” (co-worker, friend, cousin, neighbor, whoever), what they actually want is reassurance. They want to be told that what they’ve already decided to do is the correct choice. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’ll follow their original plan regardless of the “advice” their friend gives — and secretly resent it if they aren’t told what they wanted to hear.

    The best advice on giving advice is DON’T DO IT, unless you’re being asked as a professional.


    1. “Did you try putting up a disclaimer at the start of your post that you’re not looking for any advice?”

      Well, being a professional, I usually give it. So here’s my unsolicited professional advice to Clarissa:

      You and N GET YOUR FLU SHOTS again this year, so you don’t bring the flu home to Klara!


  2. The thing is that giving advice is fun. This is because other people’s problems usually seem so trivial and easy to fix (as opposed to one’s own problems which are an unsolveable tangled mess of complexity).

    I saw an interview with an advice columnist who said that as far as they could tell most people who write in are just sussing out options they might not have thought of.


  3. Well, “do I have any other options” is a legitimate question, I think; people seek medical and legal advice all the time, and advice from/on other professions; I tend to ask perceptive and people whether they see another way to view the matter or frame the question; oracles and ancient divining methods are designed to do this last.

    It’s fun to give academic and study abroad advice, show people possibilities they weren’t aware of, but I think it is headache to give advice, figure out a problem or a situation, something to say that will be useful but not too much. It really takes it out of me and I am grateful when people are able to do this for me.

    I’ve gotten some unsolicited and bossy advice and I do not like it. Usually I just don’t speak to the person again. My roommate assigned freshman year, I managed to lose her in the shuffle of life but she, although well-meaning, was very bossy, treated me like her doll. She found me 40 years later and tried to be friends but being friends, to her, seems to be sort of like being police. Another friend attended a 12-step group, where you cannot have “cross-talk”, but definitely liked to talk otherwise. She liked to say: “If you do not do as I say, I will not believe you want improvement to your situation” — but what she wanted done was so destructive, although she had good insights.

    In general I think the problem is not people asking for advice but people offering it. Those offering tend not to be interested in listening. I am good at it which is why I am a good advisor since then I really can see options the questioner may not.

    But I think advice is life and I think the idea one should not ask or offer it is part of the cold American culture.


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