3 Tips for Giving Advice

As you know, because I’ve discussed it here before, we choose our beliefs.

We are all presented with information, we apply our own life experiences and personalities to that information, and it becomes our own personal belief system.

The problem arises when other people have different life experiences and personalities. They can take that exact same information and come up with totally different beliefs.

It reminds me of when my wife Gimalle and I became the proud “parents” of an adorable puppy who has since grown to be the head of our household, our Shih Tzu cross Malka.

Actually, truth be told, my wife tricked me into getting Malka.

The intent of today’s posting is really not to share with you the manner by which I was deceived however I feel you have a right to know.

For several months we had discussed the pros and cons of dog ownership. I had indicated that I would have a lawyer draft a contract whereby she would agree to allow me to sleep each morning while she took the puppy out at 4 AM to pee. I had said that upon signature of said agreement I would endorse the idea of bringing a dog into our home.

She refused to sign the contract, and then used the most devious of methods to coerce me into agreeing to bring the puppy home. This is how she did it.

SHE TOOK ME TO MEET HER. Talk about manipulation.

I immediately fell in love and insisted on bringing her home right away rather than listening to Gimalle’s suggestion of taking a day or two to decide whether we really wanted to undertake this venture.

Again, notice the manipulation. It’s diabolical.

Anyway, we immediately went searching for a vet with the same gusto as parents of newborns seeking a paediatrician.

After examining Malka and assessing her future contributions to his clinics cash-flow he made an astoundingly profound prophesy when he said to us “you are going to be amazed at how many dog experts you are going to meet.”

Unsolicited Advice

That turned out to be something of an understatement. We received a veritable onslaught of advice. Here’s a sample:

“Leave food out all the time, dogs only eat when they’re hungry.”

“Only feed your dogs at specific times or they will gorge themselves until they get sick.”

“Feed her a minimum of 6 times a day.”

“Never feed her more than twice a day.”

“Don’t let her eat grapes, they will kill her.”

“Dogs love grapes! 2-3 is no problem.”

“Give her lots of variety in her food.”

“Let her get used to only one type of food.”

“You should take her to my vet, he’s the best.”

“You should take her to my vet, he’s the best.”

“You should take her to my vet, he’s the best.”

“You should take her to my vet, she’s the best.”

“You should take her to my vet, he’s the best.”

“Choose a training school that uses treats as positive reinforcement so that she can learn to associate rewards with good behaviour.”

“Whatever you do, choose a school that doesn’t use treats to reward good behaviour but instead, uses praise to teach her to associate positive recognition with good behaviour.

And my favourite;

“We hired so-and-so to train our dog. He’s the best”

“Don’t even think of hiring so-and-so. He’s an idiot.”

Same Experiences, Different Beliefs

If you’ve brought home a pet, or a newborn baby, or even an electric vehicle or a fancy type of plant, you have no doubt been on the receiving end of this well-meaning but over-enthusiastic advice.

We have been talking about how our beliefs and opinions are simply the meaning or interpretation we place on events or on information, and people tend to double down on the meaning they place on events that mean a lot to them, like becoming a parent, or adopting a pet.

Malka has sure taken me to a higher level of understanding of this.

It’s amazing how much advice is out there. Even when you don’t ask for it.

Going through a life changing experience can bring us closer, but inflicting others with our perspective on that experience can drive us further apart. Or at the very least, drive our friends around the bend.

So here are my tips on how to give advice, and how to stop giving advice. Please.

Tips for Giving Advice

#1 – Put effort into gauging what advice is desired. Some people really are looking to benefit from your experience. Others have had enough with outside input. Often you can tell which camp your audience is in. If not, there is a great way to find out whether your advice is wanted or needed: ask.

#2 – Remember that learning is part of the fun. “Fun” is a relative term, especially when it comes to midnight feedings or 4 AM pee breaks for a new puppy. But everyone who embarks on a life change needs to find what works for them, and if you think back to when you went through it, you may remember that no amount of advice actually changes the fact that you simply have to find your own way. That might help you resist the urge to offer advice that isn’t needed or wanted.

#3 – Same information, different conclusions

We humans just love to share. We LOVE it. But remember, our own beliefs arise because of the filter of our own experiences. So people you might be tempted to advise have their own experiences that filter their choices.

While something they choose to do with their new pet, or whatever their circumstance is, might seem wildly wrong or unorthodox, to them it’s perfectly logical, and indeed, correct. For them.

Till we read again.

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