'Here's What You Oughta Do...' Advice On Giving Advice.Submitted by Quartermain at 2012-05-29 04:39:40 EDT
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“When people ask for advice, they don’t actually want advice. What they want is for you to rubber-stamp the decision they’ve already made.” -My Father
Do you give advice? I do. I tend to run my mouth pretty freely, actually. This is partly because I’m a fascinating man with a wide variety of life experiences, and partly because I know everything about everything. As a function of me running my mouth, I tend to hand out a lot of advice, some of which is asked for, and some of which is provided unsolicited, as a public service. Now, there’s an art to handing out advice. A technique, if you will, that distinguishes the classic and selfless purveyor of valuable information from the random mumbling nutbag often found on street corners and public transportation. (And because I know that someone who thinks they’re clever will at this point ask ‘which one are you again?’ I’ll go ahead and allow that I’m the first one, and not the second.)
There are two major points you have to keep in mind when giving advice. First, you have to know the people involved. If you don’t know the people involved, you’re just saying random things to strangers, which edges you into mumbling nutbag territory. Secondly, you have to listen. Even if they’re boring, you still have to listen. Listening is the key to giving good(or sometimes, for your own entertainment, comically bad)advice. If you’re giving unsolicited advice, just fire it on out there, maybe preface it with a ‘you know what, here’s what ya oughta do…’ If the advice is solicited, on the other hand, you can put a little more into it. Like with a magician, people appreciate a little show, it makes them feel they’re getting their money's worth.
1. Start by leaning back in your chair. If you like, and you’re not too fat or clumsy, maybe tip it back onto two legs. This indicates that you’re looking at The Big Picture, and appreciating their problem’s place in The Wider Scope of Things.
2. Narrow your eyes. This indicates that you’re bringing all of your considerable brain-power to bear on the problem. You may also wish to make some sort of sucking sound with your teeth, to indicate that you’re thinking really hard.
3. Lean forward again and/or let your chair thump back onto all four legs. This indicates that you’re come to a decision, and are now ready to render a verdict in the case of Person You Know v. Problem.
4. Extend your dominant hand and wag your index finger in their general direction. This focuses their attention and primes them for the pearls of wisdom you’re about to bestow. Then preface your remarks with one of the following phrases: ‘I tell you what…’; ‘You know what you oughta do…’ or ‘Here’s what you oughta do…’ These aren’t strictly necessary, but it’s a nice little formality before the chaos, kind of like how the The Star-Spangled Banner is played before a Lions game.
5. Depending on the kind of advice handed out, it may be necessary to add some sort of disclaimer. These may include, but are not limited to, such statements as ‘You do know how to tie a tourniquet, right?’; ‘If you get caught, I don’t know you.’; ‘but that’s just me...’ or ‘I’m not a lawyer, though.’
It should be pointed out that you will hardly ever see that last one appended to advice given on the Internet, although you will see its opposite thrown about quite freely.