Giving advice comes naturally to us because it’s easy to give out opinions. However, taking advice is a different thing entirely for one main reason.
Often when we ask something, we already have an idea of what the answer will be in our mind. We just want to hear it from someone else as if to validate our thoughts. If it’s not what we want to hear, we get to look at the issue from a different perspective. If we don’t agree with what we hear, we ignore it because we can’t seem to handle the dissonance and conflicting opinions within us. Sometimes it’s because we are doubtful of the quality of the advice.
We seem to ask advice not to hear opinions of others but rather to validate our own thoughts and ideas. In a way, it seems like we asked for comfort instead of an unbiased opinion. Unless we are emotionally ready to challenge our own thoughts, we will never be able to handle the reality in the eyes of other people. We each have our own perception of reality and it takes a significant amount of effort to try to understand other people’s perception of reality.
We need to consider the fact that when we ask for advice, we should keep an open mind. This is what I mean in my previous blog post when I say we should listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond. The main idea of asking for advice is to challenge our own opinions and ideas which may or may not lead to change. Some may think this change is one-sided. However, when one gives advice to another, the advice-giver should be prepared to be challenged by the other as well. Advice works both ways, we must be willing to get as much as we are willing to give.
It’s difficult for some to see the true value of advice. One may feel attacked by advice given by others because it sounded like a criticism. Every piece of advice given is a learning opportunity for personal growth. If we react negatively to advice, it may limit our growth. It may be that we are reluctant to follow advice because we are inexperienced. We want to experience the mistake ourselves and learn from it rather than hearing it from someone else. It’s in our nature to trust our own judgements more than others. There’s nothing wrong in learning something by ourselves but hearing it from others may present a different perspective and lessons from what we already know.
It’s not easy to give and take advice. It’s an art of effective communication involving mutual understanding and unconditional open-mindedness. At the end of the day, regardless of whether we act upon the advice or not, we still manage to unlock our limited mind and improve our way of thinking.