Advice is usually ignored unless it is sought after

Have you ever tried to give someone free advice? Ever tried to expound on your own personal philosophy? Notice how, almost without exception, they acted bored, half-acknowledged everything you said?

The human mind is a complex entity. One of the zillions of things it does - arguably one of the most important - is self-defense. It examines what comes in. If a piece of data - say, some platitude about life - does not mesh with what it is presently thinking about or doing, that data will be filed away as useless information or idiotic blather or just plain wrong or some similar category.

Another function of the mind is more diagnostic in nature. The mind is capable of varying degrees of self repair. If it becomes confused about how to handle something, it may seek guidance from others. When you are asking someone for advice on how to deal with your significant other, you are much more likely to listen to what that person advises than if you are merely discussing your s/o without appearing to need advice.

This is why Jehova's Witnesses get the door slammed in their faces so often. People are generally not looking to get "fixed" by motivated strangers.

Here are some of the variables that will modify a person's receptivity to your advice:

  • Familiarity with you.
  • Affinity for the subject of discourse.
  • Current thought patterns and how closely they do or do not align with what you are talking about.
  • General mental state.
  • Past advice you have given, how much sense it made, whether or not it worked if it was followed.
  • The third person factor. People respond to us differently when there are multiple people within earshot than they do when there are only two people who can hear what is being said.

I believe that good advice is simply an idea of your own that is spoken by someone else. In able to give good advice, one must be able to think like the receiver of the advice; able see things from the other person's point of view and predict what that person would do objectively, instead of allowing themselves to automaticaly react in the usual maner of allowing emotions, instincts, ignorance, and style of dress to effect their behavior. Good advice does not start with "What you should do is...", "What I would do is...", or "That's nice. Now this is what happened to me today at..". The proper beginning to good advice is "What you normally do is....." People try to help others out all the time with advice by using experiences that happened to themselves, instead of experiences that had happened to the person they are trying to advise. I give bad advice all the time, but now that I have finally learned from my many mistakes, I find myself drawing from the other person to give them good advice.

Ad*vice" (#), n. [OE. avis, F. avis; + OF. vis, fr. L. visum seemed, seen; really p. p. of videre to see, so that vis meant that which has seemed best. See Vision, and cf. Avise, Advise.]


An opinion recommended or offered, as worthy to be followed; counsel.

We may give advice, but we can not give conduct. Franklin.


Deliberate consideration; knowledge.


How shall I dote on her with more advice, That thus without advice begin to love her? Shak.


Information or notice given; intelligence; as, late advices from France; -- commonly in the plural.

⇒ In commercial language, advice usually means information communicated by letter; -- used chiefly in reference to drafts or bills of exchange; as, a letter of advice.


4. Crim.Law

Counseling to perform a specific illegal act.


Advice boat, a vessel employed to carry dispatches or to reconnoiter; a dispatch boat. -- To take advice. (a) To accept advice. (b) To consult with another or others.

Syn. -- Counsel; suggestion; recommendation; admonition; exhortation; information; notice.


© Webster 1913.

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