Give and take: playing the advice game

Like many people I like to read helpful stuff on the internet, sometimes even stuff without pictures of cake.

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I’ve recently come across Australian Aunty B, the business bitch. People ask her advice on a number of work-related issues – some of which sound so eye-rollingly familiar I think I know the people involved.

Seeking advice is important, not only because it can actually be helpful but because often we know the answer – we just want someone else to agree with us, to back us up and inspire us. And sometimes we just need a gentle shove between the shoulder blades to launch us out of the pit of despair into the land of take what you want.

Giving advice often seems very easy – it’s just your opinion and people can ignore it if they want to. At their peril, obviously. It can, however, be far too easy to say what you think someone wants to hear, which isn’t helpful. People who tell you the truth and point out the good and the bad are useful additions to your life and if you find someone who will do this, chain them to your desk and to hell with the kidnap charges.

It’s irksome but sometimes advice is ignored – I think it’s a truth universally acknowledged that if someone wants to do something, even when it’s clearly wrong, they’ll do it regardless. How else do we learn that photocopying our naked buttocks during the work Christmas party is not a particularly good idea?

Because I know you’re itching your palms with curiosity, here are the two best pieces of advice I have ever received.

Always take lunch on your first day

This might sound a bit childish – but then again, so is being told ‘remember to wear knickers’ and yet people fail to do this time and again. But eating lunch is very important and not starving even more so. What if you wind up in a barren wasteland with no cafes or even a McDonald’s to slum it in? Pocket fluff has no nutritional value.

When in doubt, do nothing

This might sound nonsensical but I’ve found it immensely useful over the years. Mainly because I am prone to getting in a panic about things and want a solution now – which means I usually do what I shouldn’t. And then I have to wear the pants of regret.

What oracle do you seek your answers from? And what’s the best, or worst, piece of advice you’ve received or given? 

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