In difficult situations we sometimes need a good advice, but all advice is not as good. In this article we investigate the "psychology of good advice". What is the hallmark of a really good advice in a psychological perspective?
The Advice Trap
Often, when placed at a point of confusion or desperation, teenagers feel the need to talk to people and get some helpful advice. How do we gauge the value of the advice? Normally, we place value on the advice on the basis of the value we place on the person. Let us consider what constitutes good advice and the traps that the advice can get you into and methods to weigh whether to follow the advice or not.
The reality is that each person who provides advice does so from a personal context. One person may believe that obedience is necessary regardless of personal choices while another believes that you have to find your way ahead in life. One may suggest keeping up a front that makes you seem successful while another will suggest you should forget about your image and follow your heart. We work out an idea of better and worse on the basis of our own experiences – a factor that can inhibit the ability to explore life’s choices when providing advice.
Gauge the situation
You are planning to do a study course and want to talk to somebody about your choice. Your friends think what you are doing is right because you seem to like the subjects. Your parents do not agree. You are uncertain. Though you had at one time thought that this was the right choice to take, you have started to feel afraid that you will land up with an esoteric specialization that can provide limited jobs. Your parents have expressed the same fear. They would like to see you in steady employment.
What should you do? Go on a fact finding mission to see what job options or further study options can come about through the chosen path. Satisfy yourself that there are ways to work and those methods interest you. Maybe it will take you to different parts of the world and expose you to new cultures. Think about it, picture yourself in that sort of life and imagine the physical and mental stresses. Still like it? You are on the right track. But, what if you like to visit new cultures only when you are with a tour group, are wary of foreigners and not particularly interested in different cultures? It is time for a re-think.
The main signs of good advice:
- Opens up your own feelings to you without making you feel differently about yourself
- Seeks to build confidence about your own capabilities
- Places responsibility of decision making on you
- Refuses to take a decision for you
- Rationally brings up your own strengths and weaknesses and focuses on the former
- Makes you feel motivated about your choice and reiterates your inherent qualities that suit your chosen field
- Helps you to identify actions that you can immediately undertake to overcome
- Deals with the contradictions regarding your need for approval and desire to follow your heart
- Considers the various factors at play – your past academic and experience record, familial factors and constraints, financial freedom and options to fend for yourself and your own feelings regarding the decision
How you should feel after receiving advice:
- More decided about making a choice and weighing the contradictions before you
- Better able to vision yourself in line with your abilities and talents
- Most important, you should feel good about yourself and willing to take responsibility for the choice you take
Traps to avoid:
- Emotional blackmail from the person who is providing the advice
- Acceptance of responsibility for decision making while the person giving you the advice tries to take the decision for you
- Being unaware of the context and knowledge limitations of the advisor
- Becoming dependent on the individual who has spent time with you – you are expected to take a decision after possibly one or two more rounds of minor clarification
- Viewing the person as someone who can provide perspective on different topics, remember, you are expected to display the capacity to think for yourself
If the advice has left you feeling uncertain or preferring to follow another option with more predictable outcomes, so be it.