Why Bother Receiving Advice?

Why Bother Receiving Advice?

I am quick to give counsel, and a little slower to accept it. Yet, both are necessary in our personal and professional lives. Without the exchange of giving and receiving guidance and instruction, our relationships grow lopsided. But not only that we will be inclined to develop into big headed and ignorant individuals. 

Dear Abby

Ann Landers and Abby were the pseudo names of twin sisters who both became famous as advice columnists. I grew up reading the newspapers which featured their advice columns and always wondered why people would write to strangers and ask for advice. 

I spent more time listening to John Prine’s satirical song entitled Dear Abby than I did reading her advice columns for myself. John Prine’s song encapsulated fictitious letters written to Abby with a chorus that repeated the same advice to each inquiry, “You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t…stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood.” 

Perhaps asking strangers for advice is easier, but not better. Strangers don’t know us as well as a spouse, close friend or even our boss. This could also mean that counsel from a stranger would be more benign, less blunt and even easier to ignore. 

Consequently, taking our dilemmas, difficulties and secret transgressions to someone who knows us well, is risky, and at the same time, productive, that is if we are open to their counsel. 

Placing ourselves across the table from someone who knows us well in order to lay out our heart to them makes us vulnerable. Honesty is a scary act to perform. Exposing ourselves might even seem hazardous. It takes great courage to speak about our foibles.

It is likely for there to be only one or two people in anyone’s life who can be trusted with such a thing as our full disclosure, but it only takes one or two trusted individuals to persuade and encourage us toward the life changes we are already considering.  

I find it interesting that after having sat with someone who sought my counsel or after having sat with someone to receive counsel, the guidance does not end there. Instead, it is just the starting line. Like an opened door, the recommendations given and received lead us out on a new journey, one we knew we needed to take, but only needed someone to validate our hunch. 

Why bother receiving advice? We were never made to go it alone, rather we were made to help each other find our way.