Caveat Emptor

It is a common belief that when we are at crossroads of a difficult decision that asking for advice benefits; when in actuality we have already made the decision for ourselves. What we actually seek is not advice but absolution from the guilt of having to make a tough choice. If the advice given isn’t in tandem with our sub-consciously pre-made decision we seldom follow it. This is because all of us know, deep down, advice givers are usually wrong.

For one, leading psychologists believe that people who are mentally closer to the event at hand have a better understanding of how to deal with the situation they are put in as compared to those who have low proximity to it. Though we look to people emotionally detached from the situation to give us unbiased advice what we fail to see is that emotional attachment plays a major role in decision making. Advisors are usually well-wishers but they will not be able to view the circumstances in its entirety. They will be unable to give you the best tailored advice for your predicament, because they will always look at your situation abstractly. For instance, in any airline, they advise you to secure your own oxygen mask before you secure your child’s but by nature the mother would be instigated to ensure her child’s safety first where her emotional attachment to the child inevitably plays.

Furthermore advisors are usually wrong because despite being well intentioned are unconsciously in competition with you. They are usually insincere because the act of giving advice is more ego-gratifying than magnanimousness. They have the upper hand when they tell you what to do because you usually seek advice when you are vulnerable. It might even be as simple as giving you the wrong advice just to watch your demise. In this case, ulterior motives will be your ruin. Pandora’s Box is a beautiful example. Zeus wanted to punish mankind and so gave Prometheus’s brother a woman and as a wedding gift gave her a jar (now called Pandora’s Box) he advised her not to open it. She however out of curiosity opened the box that contained all the evil in the world which now spread all over the earth. She expected Zeus to be angry because she hadn’t followed his advice. However the wrath of Zeus was not upon her as he intended for it to happen.

Lastly, people who give us advice lack practicality. They get caught up in the theory and usually fail to look out for the practicality quotient of the advice they give. Hence the saying came about, “Easier said than done.” While all great ideas originate as theories, advice needs to be practical in order for it to be effectively implemented. For example: The time and motion study developed by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. This is a business efficiency technique that was introduced in the 20th century. It broke down a complex task into small and simple steps in order to observe and eliminate any wastefulness or redundancies. So each labourer would be assigned a small task and would be asked to repeat it for all of the working time. When all the employees follow through on their specific tasks, a marked production increase would be seen. Though it was an innovate management idea that would greatly increase production it was theoretical as it overlooked the aspect of human beings being incapable of repetitive tasks for long periods of time. Monotony would therefore retard the quality of work they employees put in resulting in a negative impact on production.

Oscar Wilde once said that there is only one thing you should do with good advice and that is to pass it on because it is never useful to oneself. People never use their own advice. Having said so don’t you wonder how you could possibly trust anyone’s advice when they themselves wouldn’t use it? So while seeking advice gives you unbiased, experienced solutions to your problems remember that it might be aimed at your detriment. Advice is like any other commodity. Caveat Emptor holds.



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