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Rule 3: Listen to All Advice

You don't need to follow all advice. In fact, it isn't a good idea to blindly follow advice. Yet, usually advice is given to help you improve your life. Why dismiss advice without first considering it? Many people don't listen to advice because they hear it as criticism. And certainly, many times advice may be harsh in how it is presented. However, that is not a reason to dismiss it without listening. The ability to evaluate ourselves realistically allows us to make better life decisions.

Listening to advice provides the opportunity to learn to evaluate advice. Since we can be bombarded in our daily lives with suggestions, it is important to know how to assess the information. Several questions need to be considered:

1) What is the source of the advice?
All sources are not credible. You need to determine who is providing the advice and why. For instance, if a salesperson is advising you to purchase a certain product, they have the agenda of making money. They do not have your best interests in mind. However, if a good friend is advising you to purchase the product, your friend does not have a stake in the purchase and is likely to be making a suggestion to help you.

Listen to All Advice If you are given professional advice, what are the credentials of the professional? For instance, there is much advice on the internet. Is the advice from someone who has expertise in the field as shown by education and experience? In addition, sometimes you may want to double-check even the professionals such as getting a second opinion when given medical advice.

2) Is the advice anecdotal or evidence-based?
If advice starts with a story such as “When my friend....” it usually means the advice is anecdotal. The problem with advice based upon what happened to someone else is that the situation could have been unique to that person. For instance, we frequently hear stories such as “My uncle smoked and drank his entire life and lived to be 90” as a way of refuting the idea that smoking and drinking is unhealthy.

We can always find exceptions to the rule. Just because something is good or bad for most people doesn't mean it will be for everyone. However, we need to evaluate the advice based on evidence. The best evidence is provided by research or statistics. For example, if we know that 80% of the time something occurs we have evidence to guide our decision.

3) Does the advice apply to your situation?
Sometimes people provide advice because it is what was best for them but it may not be appropriate for you. For instance, when making career decisions, a number of factors need to be considered such as financial, flexibility, stability, and challenge. Different personalities would place these factors in different orders of importance. One person may be uncomfortable with risk and want a more stable career whereas another may need challenge more than money. Therefore, even good advice may not be the best decision for every person.

Once you have evaluated the advice, then you can determine whether you want to follow the advice. This process allows you to make the best decision for yourself.

One caveat to the above advice: if you have already evaluated the advice and it continues to be repeated, you no longer need to listen. In this case, you can honestly and assertively respond: “I have considered your advice and have made the decision that I believe is best for me.”

Kindle Books by
Dr. Monica Frank

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