Money can't buy happiness, but neither can poverty.

~ Leo Rosten ~

Ever Had Bad Advice?

November 2nd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 0 secs

How do you deal with advice that’s bad?

Think of all the times you’ve gotten bad advice. Like the teasing tips you got about your wedding night… those hangover cures that were sure to cure all… and those outrageous magazine and website tips advising how to “conquer” your man (or woman). Being as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, they merely add to the “junk shoved to one side of your mind” pile. Yet, there are plenty of other sources for bad advice, aren’t there?

Take the guy who, a week before our wedding, came into the camera store I was working in. On being told by another salesman that I was getting married, the stranger came up to me, begging me not to get married. “Whatever you do”, he intoned, “don’t do it! Just don’t” Sounding more like a Yule Brynner plea to stop smoking, it was a disconcerting warning. But, most significantly, it was ridiculously bad advice.

Just like the man from the Education Department who came out to high school and told every impressionable teen, “Don’t do teaching. We’ve got too many already. You’ll never get a job.” No doubt, he meant well, but I personally know of one young fellow who lost his will to work at school and dropped out early. Only to come back to university years later because he learned the hard way that you don’t let circumstance make your life. Instead, you follow your own honorable passions; persisting until what you need to do gets done. Bad advice wastes time and restrains us from achieving.

There are countless ways bad advice costs us dearly. The whole “if you only believe” movement, built on cultic charlatanism, wrecks many a sincere life. While, quackery in health goes one further by taking them.

A friend of mine (call her Mary), kept seeing her doctor for increasingly bad headaches, blurred vision, and vertigo. But, she had no idea how bad her physician’s advice was. Stubbornly, her GP kept insisting Mary had a “food allergy”, until months later she finally collapsed. Rushed to hospital, scans revealed Mary had a massive brain tumor. Yet, despite her obvious symptoms, the doctor refused to undertake the necessary tests. Bad advice nearly cost Mary her life.

I know plenty of stories about the terrible price people have paid for bad advice. But I’m sure you have plenty you could share too. Some, no doubt, have been having an impact on your family and friends. While others have had a terrible effect upon you directly.

How can we mitigate against the risk of bad advice? For starters, it simply isn’t possible to avoid it totally. Sometimes, we just have to go with what seems most reasonable at the time. But here are 6 tips that might help:

  1. Drill down. Question advice so you better understand the whys behind the advice
  2. Explore. It can often be helpful to consider 3 possible options. Ask the person giving advice whether there are any other possibilities. You might even think of a few yourself.
  3. Trust your gut. If you feel any hint of doubt, get a second opinion and consider it a worthwhile investment in peace of mind.
  4. Check. There are times when a simple check can identify if you’ve received bad advice. Today, more than ever, it’s getting easier to do your own homework.
  5. Go to bed. As old fashioned as it seems, it often works. When it matters and you have time, sleep on advice that gives you any hesitancy.
  6. Be responsible. No matter what advice you get, remember, you are responsible. So, resist the temptation to hand over your personal accountability (though, I admit, this is easier said than done).

The potential damage bad advice can create makes it worth your while to develop a healthy vigilance. Not to be distrusting as such. Just to use your wits to confirm your thoughts before following through.

Most people do their best to give you helpful information. Yet, even then, there are occasions when sensible people are innocently mistaken. In the end, by being aware and doing our best, you and I can dodge lots of bad advice. But when bad instructions lead to worse, digging in deep to find our courage and character is, I believe, the ultimate ace card.

The Trouble With Greedy, Grubby, Pushy Selling

How Disaster Hits You

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