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Thursday, 22 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 22: You know best

A few days ago, I offered one of my colleagues an old Agatha Christie novel called, “Murder is Easy.” Although I hadn’t yet read it, I thought it would be interesting.

A day later, she gave the book back to me, saying she didn't like it, and didn’t want to read further. I understood because everyone has different tastes.

Today, I read the novel myself. And found it a highly absorbing read.

In the process, I realized something.

Imagine a similar incident but substitute “advice-seeking” for “book-reading”. Most often, people who give us advice about something are only telling us how ‘they’ would deal with it. It may not actually be the best thing for me unless the advisor is talking after paying due attention to things from my point of view.

Normal people are not trained to do this. Why, I’ve seen even trained counselors – who are repeatedly cautioned to avoid handing out ready-made solutions – often do this. 

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It’s quite understandable considering that there can only be so many possible problems and as long as we’re talking to someone in our peer circle, we would have experienced many of those problems ourselves. The minute we hear someone complain about something similar, off we go, shooting our mouth, telling them how they should be dealing with it.

I’ve seen this happen quite often and always waited to see the reaction of the one who’s at the receiving end of the advice. Surprisingly, a lot of people take such advice at face value, without stopping to consider if it’s actually right for them. Perhaps it has to do with the insecurity that comes when you think you don’t know what to do – and if someone tells you emphatically that xyz is what you must be doing, it gives you some level of certainty which is definitely comforting.

I have no objection to taking advice on minor things that don’t really matter much – which restaurant offers great food, where to buy your clothes, which photographer to hire for a wedding etc.

But when it comes to really important decisions in life, I think it is worth asking people for their opinions, but you must be willing to deal with the temporary insecurity of ‘not knowing’ and work your way through various options suggested, before coming up with the answer. You must do what's best for you!

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