Giving advice is hard. Your guidance stems from your personal experiences or advice you’ve gotten in the past.
It can be difficult to help someone else when your experiences vary, and sometimes it is difficult to put those experiences into motivating words.
But it is even harder giving advice to an askhole. Yes, an askhole—someone who is constantly seeking advice but always does the opposite of what they are told. It’s not fun digging deep for advice and then watching someone do the exact opposite of what you suggested, over and over again.
We’ve all been there, whether we were the advice giver or the askhole. Where I see this play out most frequently is in relationship situations.
During freshman year of college, a friend of mine from high school began having boy problems. She and her boyfriend had been together for four years, but he went to college in another city. She said when he came back on weekends he was not “romantic” to her and it was eating her alive during their weeks apart.
I gave her all the best, unbiased advice, I could give but she would ignore it, making her relationship worse instead of better. She started hanging around strange guys to make her boyfriend jealous; she would take selfies with them in class and then she would tell her boyfriend it was his fault because he wasn’t adoring her enough. After every fight, she would come back and ask me for advice but she never listened or took my counsel to heart.
Many facepalms later, I finally realized she was an askhole.
Although giving your friends suggestions is great, it is important to realize that their life is just that—theirs. You’ve done your part to help, but they are clearly not willing to accept the guidance they have been given, probably because their mind was made up before they even asked. Advice is like a guide that teaches us to avoid mess-ups, but we learn from our mistakes as well.
Five Steps to Stop Being an Askhole
1. Keep An Open Mind
Having an open mind is crucial in any life situation, but if you are asking for advice you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. You can’t expect all guidance to be rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, the truth hurts but you have to move on from it. You might be the root of the problem, and if you’re closed-minded you may never solve the issues that are troubling you because you can’t see past your own stubbornness. So please, don’t have your mind already made up when you ask a person for their opinion.
Be respectful of others and yourself—don’t let yourself fly off the handle when things don’t pan out in your favor. Remain calm and try something new, like listening to others. Keeping an open-mind is essential to have throughout your life so the sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be.
2. Choose Your Advisor Wisely
This person you ask can be anyone but it is important they are unbiased. For instance, if you are having relationship troubles, it is probably not wise to go to your mother. She will more than likely side with you in a heartbeat and her opinion of your guy will never be the same. Stick with your friends or mentors. The adviser has to be able to call you on your shit and hand you a reality check if needed. This person isn’t there to console you, hold your hand, and take all the blame off you.
If you are seeking someone’s approval instead of advice, then don’t bother asking for it and wasting their time. Why ask someone for their thoughts if you already know you will reject it the moment it’s uttered from their lips? And of course, the more questions you have, the more “counselors” you will need. You shouldn’t overwhelm your adviser with a zillion questions, unless you want them to magically disappear from your life.
3. Listen (Actively!)
Don’t assume anything while your adviser is talking and don’t distract yourself. If you’re texting, stop. Try not to think about the issue at hand, rather focus on listening to everything your peer has to say to the very end. Don’t interrupt and no “but’s”, or “what if’s”.
If you’re planning your response to their advice or thinking to yourself “there’s no way I’ll do that” then you’re missing the point. You ask for help when you need outside perspective and new ideas. If you’re not listening with an open mind (see tip #1) then don’t bother asking.
4. Absorb & Reflect
If you are still unclear about the advice you’re getting, it’s okay to ask for a better explanation or for an example. You must be able to fully understand their message so it resonates with you. Absorbing the information takes time and will vary from person to person. Write down the suggestions you were given and then rewrite it in your own words—create your own mantra.
When you think you have grasped the message, think about actions you have recently taken that either compliment the message or contradict it. For some, it may be wise to do an in-depth analysis of the circumstances at hand, or even previous situations, to see where things went wrong and where they can improve.
5. Implement the Advice
When you have taken your adviser’s words to heart, when you memorize them and make them your mantra, you are able to implement the suggestions in any situation. This allows you to grow as an individual plus it stops you from being an annoying askhole. You’ve gained some wisdom that you will always carry with you. It will help you better evaluate actions you take in the future.
Whether you are the adviser or the askhole, you must have patience. People aren’t perfect, and sometimes people are afraid to hear the truth or take action.
Have you ever given advice to an askhole? How did you handle it?
Are you a reformed askhole? How did you change?
This article was previously published on theindiechicks.com in July 2014, before the publication closed down. The CEO gave all contributors full access to their work.