Never Give Your Friends Free Advice

Why sharing your knowledge can be a waste of time and how to provide valuable advice instead

Mentalcodex | Julfi

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Artist : François-Xavier Fabre

Generosity leads you to believe sharing your experiences is valued.

But here’s the thing:

Unsolicited advice is as useless as stirring hot air.

Nobody learns.

You waste your time.

You waste people’s time.

Here’s a better way.

Think about activists who approach you on the street asking for donations.

They do so without considering your interests, hoping that their noble cause alone will capture your attention.

But they are just troublesome, interrupting us in a place where we just pass by. That’s precisely what you do when you give advice during a discussion for no other reason than feeling entitled to do so.

Yes, this is your thing.

Yes, you want to help.

And yes, you feel listened to and valued.

But your emotional attachment to the subject is blinding you.

Few people seek advice. Usually, they mention a new skill they are trying to learn or express interest in something for other reasons.

It can be to impress.

It can be to keep the discussion going.

When you jump in and start giving your life’s experiences and how you’ve done X, Y, and Z, sure they’ll listen.

You’ll think that’s because they are interested in your fierce enthusiasm and useful knowledge, but they’re just waiting for you to stop.

And you’ll leave the discussion feeling like you were useful, but you’ve just earned “boring person” points.

So what to do?

No Advice Is Free

Forget the idea that it costs nothing to help when it’s a friend or family.

Your advice has value. And you get valuable things only in exchange for something else valuable.

Money may come to mind, but it’s not why I’m talking about here.

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Mentalcodex | Julfi

Power dynamics expert. I share essays and historical case studies about Human nature and its relationship with power.