By Brenda Purvis
I hate advice. I hate giving it, and I hate receiving it. I used to want to give advice to anyone who asked for it; I would jump at the opportunity! But I gave it up a long time ago. Over the years I’ve realized that asking for advice usually means “be my listening bitch for 30 minutes.” Or “take the time to give me heartfelt, thoughtful advice and I will absolutely not take a single word of it.” Either way, it usually ends up being a complete waste of my time, and I am proud to say that I am 12 months, 9 days, and 5 hours clean.
Then this weekend I was speaking to a woman who decided that her advice to me was to tell me what name I should write under. I appreciated her “help” but I knew nothing about her, her background, her education, or her political leanings, and had not actually sought the advice of this individual. It got me thinking about advice rules-of thumb, and what people should and shouldn’t do when giving it. It seems that most advice-givers are the inadequate, annoying kind, and it’s rare to find one that actually knows what they’re doing (like myself.) So before giving your next piece of advice, take a look to see if you fall under any of these categories. The results may surprise you.
The Unsolicited Advice Giver
Is someone like the aforementioned person. These types are usually older than their advice recipient. They tend to believe that they have reached an elite status of knowing it all, and that other common folk would be blessed to receive their advice. The advice is usually given while the person is in a superiority-induced blackout, and they may not even be aware of their actions. Do not attempt to question the advice from this person, nor confront them in any way until they are fully conscious. This person may sometimes be categorized as an Irrelevant Advice Giver due to the complete lack of pertinent advice they tend to give, but remember that the Unsolicited Advice Giver is different largely because of the delivery and unprovoked nature of the advice, and because they are probably a complete stranger. If you feel that you may fall into this category, please consult your local shaman or AA sponsor.
The Inexperienced Advice Giver
This person tends to be younger than the advice recipient. They’re easy to spot, typically dressed at least 3 years outdated in clothing and hair style, and are probably somewhat paler in complexion and sallow in the face. Advice is not always sought from this person, but is probably garnered in a situation where the Inexperienced Advice Giver has slowly entered him or herself in a conversation that they wish they were a part of. Advice from this person often lacks knowledge of general accepted behavior in society or personal details about the advice receiver’s actual situation. Advice from the Inexperienced Advice Giver feels like getting sex tips from a virgin. You should redirect them immediately to the closest Amish neighborhood or local LDS ward.
The Irrelevant Advice Giver
This person is much like the Inexperienced Advice Giver because when giving advice it feels like they haven’t listened to a single word that is coming out of your mouth, and therefore is giving you advice that doesn’t even resemble a logical solution to your problem. These folk are, for lack of a better word, retarded. They pose as acceptable, vaguely intelligent human beings, and WHAM! They hit you with all they’ve got! It is very difficult for me to describe the Irrelevant Advice Giver pre-advice but here goes: cranium to body ratio is usually much higher than your average human, and if you’ve ever caught someone’s eyes wandering during a conversation, in perhaps opposite directions, they’re an Irrelevant. Advice from them can be more angering than advice from an Unsolicited because the advice was 80% solicited and 100% ridiculous. This advice is like telling a paraplegic to “walk it off” or an unemployed man to “take a vacation.” An Irrelevant Advice Giver should be wearing a leash or ankle bracelet at all times, but I only have so much control over that.
The Hypocritical Advice Giver
Lastly and certainly my least favorite is the Hypocritical Advice Giver. This is probably the most prevalent of the four types and most difficult to get away from. Beware! They are your loved ones: friends, family, you name it! They’re in your life! Luckily this is the only kind of advice giver that can be retrained, but it isn’t easy. It’s best to avoid them for years at a time. The Hypocritical Advice Giver is so easy to identify you’re going to kick yourself for not realizing it before. They look and act like you and me, but have avowed to live exactly the opposite of the advice that they give you, and probably only 1-3 days after giving the advice in the first place. It’s the parent that grounds you for smoking pot because it’s addicting and leads to harder drugs, then finishes off a pack of cigarettes for the day. It’s the girlfriend who tells you to break up with your cheating boyfriend, then stays the night at her ex-boyfriend’s house. It’s the boss that says “do as I say, not as I do.” The only cure I have found for the Hypocritical Advice Giver is a good slap across the face and a cup of ice water over the head, but it is only effective for up to five minutes at a time. Long term cures require a trip to rock bottom, and I don’t know what happens down there.
So before you give advice, take a step back, and ask yourself a couple questions. 1. Am I being asked my opinion? 2. Do I have experience with this kind of situation? 3. Does my advice pertain to this person’s predicament? And 4. Would I take this advice myself? If you have answered “no” to any of these questions, then shut the f*#k up.