04 May, 2010

Do you really want my advice? Then take it.

Or at least acknowledge it.

This is a pet peeve of mine. Okay, one of many. But it irks me. Someone asks for your advice, then dismisses you out-of-hand to your face. Or your post/text/voicemail - whatev. Basically, tells you your opinion is wrong.

If you ask for someone's advice, shouldn't you at least listen to what they have to say? And should you accept that they have a legitimate take on the issue, rather than telling them they are wrong? It's advice, many times an opinion or personal experience, so that may be what would work best for them. That doesn't mean it will work for you, but it could help with your decision making. And are you asking an open-ended question, or a "what did you do when xyz happened to you?" Because if it's the latter, and you tell them they're wrong, well then, you're telling them they were, well, wrong. How nice of you! That should certainly move you to the head of the BFF status list.

So really, when asking for advice, or opinions, from our friends and acquaintances and online lurkers, is that truly what we want? Or are we looking for validation? I'm sure there have been studies galore, through sociology, psychology, other -ologies, trying to answer this question. But I'm betting that most people asking for "help", unless they are truly stumped and don't know what to do or where to go, really just want to know that someone out there thinks they are right.

I've found this to be especially true on online forums. Someone will post a message (I'm thinking of buying a dirigible and trying to fly to the moon. Should I bring my puppy? What would you do, or have done?) and then the floodgates are open. There can be a plethora of answers ("ur gonna what?" - "what's a dirigi-thingie?" - "I'd take a kangaroo instead of a dog" - "you're stupid/that's a dumb idea/WTH?") but are any of them helpful? If someone told you to use a hovercraft instead of a dirigible, would you consider it? And do you respond to any of the suggestions, other than a "thanks for your suggestions"-type message? And do any of these online peeps really care what you do, if they don't know you IRL (that's "in real life", for you non-acronym savvy) (yeah, okay, that's the extent of my vast online-acronym knowledge - I was trying to look smart)

So assuming the answerers don't really care & the asker isn't planning to "hear" the answers anyway, why bother? Are we that bored? Or lonely? Maybe just craving human contact even in such a remote form?


I know I've been terrible at this for most of my life. Ask the hubby, or my good friends. Generally, I've just wanted someone to tell me I was right, that what I'm thinking is okay, that I'm not a total whack job, etc., et al. I'm trying to get better, because I'm sure it annoys them as much as it annoys me. Unless I'm totally at a loss, I try not to ask an open-ended opinion request. More of a "in xyz sitch, would you A or B?" Some of my friends will answer that as is, some will say A or B, but that C works better for them. One gal coaches her answer in a "from my experience with you, I think you'd be happiest with..." But shouldn't the real question be more in line with " in xyz sitch, do you think I'm doing what's right for me by doing A?" Or even "Tell me it's okay to A" and just get right to the point - I want you to say it's okay. And if you don't I won't like you anymore. But I will still keep asking for your opinion on things.

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