You Get What You Pay For

Free advice can be ignored. Too much unsolicited feedback generally is brushed away. There’s nothing wrong with that response – onus is on the giver to make sure any advice is really needed, that timing is right, that message will be positively received.

Mostly, that means stop giving free advice. My confession is that it kills me to be ignored. It drives me crazy to be brushed off. And I need my own “free advice” here to keep it to myself more than anyone else. The humbling part of taking time, listening and learning, and then just holding my tongue should prepare me for still being completely discounted, or at least keep me from feeling that way.


Here’s some ideas to think on before “telling those young whippersnappers how it’s done” that might save face, might make your actual advice more palatable, and might help you and me learn a thing or two in the process.

  1. Stop being so outwardly opinionated. Many times, what you see was already seen, and maybe they’ve planned for potential problems. Or, perhaps it’s the direct result of incidental choices made further back. Either way, there’s a point where it’s either not a big deal or it’s none of your concern.
  2. Keep the thoughts of “but my way is better” to yourself. Speaking from experience as both a receiver and as a giver of this “advice”, I can say that most of the time it’s just different, not better.
  3. Listen more than you speak. This is really true in just about everything other than talk radio. Even then when you’ve got a caller, listen first.
  4. Learn more, making sure to get a more holistic kind of perspective where maybe it’s okay and working just fine. You can get further asking questions anyway. How’s that supposed to work? What size widget did you guys go with? How is it working out for you? Questions that have no discernible blame or negativity will be answered, and the parties will be more open to your input in conversation form than constant blathering. And in the midst of it all, you might learn something about how your own “my way” needs to be upgraded.
  5. And then just maybe, when you see something strong enough to share, it’ll be worth it on both sides of the conversation.

Too much free advice, when I’m on the receiving end, comes on as more opinion than anything. I get that, and I hate that feeling, too. The assumption that I don’t know what I’m doing is hard to receive. So in my mind I’m trying to make sure I’m not that person who just needs the last word, his two cents in the mix.