I just read a column in the Wall Street Journal titled “A Word of Advice … on Advice.” In it author Joe Queenan writes that the very nature of advice – its condescending subtext – makes him want to ignore it.
Queenan shares his experiences of being told to avoid writing for certain publications, to keep certain jobs, and to digitize his CD and record collection. He writes “The U.S. is addicted to advice. Americans honestly believe that someone out there knows how to fix all our problems.”
Queenan complains about people giving him advice but his problem is with unsolicited advice. People seek guidance all the time, and in doing so they are usually trying to find information about what has and hasn’t worked for others. They are asking for people to share their knowledge and opinions.
I study and practice a variety of skills and am usually interested in information that might help me in those practices. I am rarely given unsolicited advice but I constantly seek information (and by extension, advice) and gain from it. Quality, solicited advice from a trusted source can be helpful. Joe Queenan needs to set better boundaries with people who try to tell him what to do, not reject and malign the idea of “advice.”