Should I Give Advice
How To Avoid Being Blame Insurance and Play The Devils Advocate
Our Life Choices
Giving advice comes with a sense of authority.
It feels good when someone comes to confide in us with their trust.
We feel empowered as we discuss the decisions and choices of others while we allow ourselves that little gratification of feeling wise.
I'm sure you have been on both sides, whether you were asking or giving advice.
Communicating our decisions and elaborating on our thoughts with others is a healthy practice.
However, the question is, "does confiding in others for our life choices give us better results in the long run?"
The Trusted Advisor
Change is part of life, but often it is uncomfortable because it can affect our sense of identity.
When making a tough decision, it is common to seek help from a trusted advisor.
The problem with being the advisor and giving advice is that people will make a change or do something, only if they want to. The change needs to be their decision.
You cannot make anyone do anything.
In a world where free will and justice exists, individuals ultimately make their own choices and decisions.
The role of an unbiased advisor is to listen and lend an ear rather than project their personal opinion.
Asking probing questions and allowing the advisee to air their thoughts is more valuable than telling people what they should do.
A great listener is a sounding board to amplify their voice and empower the individual to elaborate and express their concerns.
Ramifications of Avoiding Responsibility
Who is to blame when the consequence of our actions creates further problems?
It's easier to point fingers rather than take responsibility.
Advice seekers shift the onus of their choices on others because they believe "that is what you told me to do, and it didn't work, so you were wrong!"
Most of the Consultant Industry operates in a manner where blame can be easily shifted to a third party.
As an example, If you, the advisor, told me, the advisee, that it was a good idea to start this or pursue that, then it is the advisor's fault that I failed because it didn't turn out in my favour, right?
There lies the fallacy. A person who asks a thousand people's opinions before they act, usually blame others when they fail.
Of course, there are exceptions to advising people in certain circumstances when they have absolutely no idea what to do.
However, if we can be honest with ourselves and venture deep inside our conscious thoughts, we all know the answer to our problems without external solutions.
Many people use advice as a sense of insurance to abscond from responsibility.
"It wasn't my fault. They suggested it" is a common phrase for blame brokers who take out insurance policies on their decisions.
If you detect this behavioral personality, beware of becoming the advisee’s blame insurance or scapegoat.
It becomes easy in hindsight to blame the advisor, for failed advice, when the reality of the situation is that you made a choice.
The blame game is difficult to avoid and is a slippery slope once you start sliding.
The question is then, what do you do when someone comes to you for advice?
How do you shift the responsibility back to the person who will ultimately need to decide for themselves?
My answer might seem crude, and honestly, it is.
The Devils Advocate
One of the best things you could do for someone who seeks advice is to challenge their concept or ideology.
Saying, "No, I don't think it will work." is hard to do, but it is the medicine that they need.
Tell them their idea is terrible, it will never work, and there is no point.
The idea may seem counterintuitive because saying no doesn’t seem very supportive at first, but when you expand your time horizon long into the future, the magic begins to emerge.
The benefits of saying No.
It is unlikely that person will come to you for advice again if they are only looking for positive reinforcement or a scapegoat.
You get to practice the art of saying no gracefully, which is a needed skill to give yourself more time in life.
You provide the advisee with the most valuable feedback in the form of a challenge.
By challenging the advisee, they will have to argue their case for why they think it is a good idea.
They will need to think hard about their choice and justify their reasoning.
This subtle trick of playing the devil's advocate is the best gift. You are essentially offering that person the first roadblock in the cause to achieve a goal.
Be The First Roadblock
When you apply some resistance, you are doing the other person a favour.
You allow them to conceptualise the road ahead and address the reality by questioning their purpose and reason.
If they display resilience and defiance, it is a good sign that they are serious.
If they cannot get past this minor hurdle before starting, it may be best not to go ahead.
When the going gets tough down the line, which it always does, they will have wasted their time if they did not prepare for some pushbacks.
I like to preface the statements I make as an advisor by saying, "If you will allow me to play the devil's advocate…(and then proceed with the counter-argument)".
If the person then gives up on the idea, after a small hurdle, they did not want it bad enough.
Life will always test how badly you want something by throwing challenges your way.
Playing the devil's advocate is not always easy, but if the person trusts you, you are doing them a disservice by telling them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
Giving advice can be a trap, so instead of becoming blame insurance, take a stand and challenge the advisee’s ideals.
The next time you are asked for advice, focus on listening and allow the other person to communicate and express their thoughts thoroughly. If they ask for an opinion, do your best to counter them and tell them what they might not want to hear. It is difficult to do, but in the long term, they will thank you.