Advice Under Uncertainty

It is risky to offer advice for what someone else “should do”.

It is generous to offer a “what if”, a beautiful future of the possibilities if they chose to.

It is noble to offer your vulnerable truth about the lessons you’ve learned and the choices you’ve made.

It is natural to give advice. It feels like we are giving back. But is easy to overlook the complexity of the situation. We project onto our advisees.

We extrapolate our lessons onto them. We are quick to forget the uncertainty of other minds. People are complex systems.

Never ask anyone for their opinion, forecast, or recommendation. Just ask them what they have—or don’t have—in their portfolio.

I’m trying hard to give less advice. Especially to people that I don’t know well. It’s easy to “cross the net”. It is easy to forget that advice expires.

The better you know the advisee, the better you understand the situation - the lower the risk of the advice. But the risk is never gone.

For the advised, I offer you this clarifying question: “What is the ‘business model’ of the person giving me this advice?”. (In the most philosophical sense of the phrase ‘business model’…how do they stand to gain or lose from this advice? Do they have skin in the game?)

For now - I’m trying to focus on sharing what has worked for me, sharing my unique perspective on the situation. Who am I to say what you should do?

P.S. - I’m trying to stitch together an Adlerian approach to “skin in the game”. I’m not sure where I’m headed, but I’m pretty sure that it’s connected to non-violent communication.