7 Types of Advice : Things You Wish You Knew Before You Listened

By Doyinsola Aluko


With the way life is set up, it is almost impossible to believe you do not need the input of others. Of course, you do not have to take anyone’s words as law but it is wise to at least hear the words of someone other than yourself. Have you ever been in a situation where you were in a state of confusion and someone just mentioned something totally unrelated and everything just clicked? Well, that is what listening can do sometimes. Sometimes, the reverse can be the case. You can hear someone else’s take on your situation and become more confused than you were before their advice left their mouth. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify the kind of advice you are getting before you take it in and know how to work with it. Below are the 7 types of advice I have observed and taken note of.


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1. Advice Based on Idleness – I Was Not Asked But I Will Still Speak

This kind of advice poses the least amount of threat to you. You did not go out looking for it but somehow it found a way to magically appear to your physical space. You are in total control here. The only time this will change is if you give it full audience and actually take it seriously. Then, it will perforate your physical space and make its way to your mental space.


Pros and Cons with a little advice:

Quite frankly, it is hard to find pros to this kind of advice because it tends to be somewhat bothersome due to its unsolicited nature. However, with every good thing there is a bad thing and vice versa so there has to be an advantage here. The one good quality advice based on idleness has is its ability to bring your awareness to things you would ordinarily not think of or usually ignore. This random input might be the hint you have been looking for to answer that really hard question you have been trying to solve for days, if not years. A slight push in the right direction. With this kind of advice you just never know.

On the other hand, this kind of advice can trigger negative thoughts in your head. It can bring back memories that need to be forgotten. It can make you start questioning a lot of things in your life that really do not need over-analyzing. It can empower insecurities and invigorate self-doubt.

Be sure to always be mindful of who you are around and how long you spend in certain places. Even a random stranger can make you feel less than you know you are. Random remarks on social media prove this every day. Give yourself a chance to live free of pain. Give your heart and mind a chance to feel and think positively. You have one life to live. Do not spend it on thinking negatively, especially because of someone else’s idleness.



2. Advice Based on Jealousy- What Does the Green-eyed Monster Have to Say?

This kind of advice is the most toxic and is well-disguised like advice based on a hidden agenda. It is usually directed at you as an arrow that is designed to make you question yourself without fully knowing why. With this kind of advice, you hear a lot of back-handed compliments and most times the person’s nose mimics the look a person has when they smell something bad. There is a bit of a judgmental undertone. Sometimes even condescending. You will notice that when a person’s advice is based on jealousy, their voice either becomes deeper or tone changes to quite an exaggerated and a sarcastic one. With the extremely advanced players of this game, you may not notice any physiological change. What you might notice, however, is an apparent sudden loss of interest on the topic right after the advice has been served. The person is quite touchy about the same subject they felt the need to call you aside to talk to you about. Quite odd isn’t it? Well, blame the green-eyed monster?

Here is a more vivid example. Imagine you wake up one morning and decide to color your hair blue. You then go ahead to approach your friend about this new decision. Unknowingly to you, your friend has been wanting to do the same thing but has not gotten around to doing it yet. Your friend is competitive, even with the tiniest of things. So, the goal on your friend’s part is to find a way to delay you from being the first person to get blue hair. Jealousy then pushes your friend to either badmouth people who use unconventional colors to color their hair or decides to give you that very judgmental look or tone of voice to make you reconsider your well-thought out plan.



Pros and Cons with a little advice:

This kind of advice coming frequently from the same person can be an indicator that you are doing and/or enjoying something that is desired by the person. It can be a sign that you are going something right somewhere. I mean who wants to internally overheat and rot for something that is not viewed as desirable? Point is, if it is not good (at least to them), they would not have to formulate an advice to mess with your head. While jealousy is viewed as commonplace because of how frequent it comes to the surface, it is an emotion that can make people do and undo things. It is a very deadly emotion and high doses of it can be quite destructive to both the prey and predator. It consumes negatively and seeks only to destroy. If you identify this kind of advice and notice it being given to you by the same person constantly, I would recommend you reduce contact. This is not only for yourself but for the person in question too. You are killing them gradually and they can only pour out what is produced when the jealousy is about to overflow. Be wise about your associations because there is a slight possibility that someone’s mission is to derail you from the path that is going to lead you to success. Be alert; your future depends on it.



HA 13. Advice Based on a Hidden Agenda (Personal Interest) – Hmmm… What Can I Get Out of This?

Unlike advice based on jealousy, this one does not always have a destructive end goal. Advice based on a hidden agenda requires a well-thought out plan. It is never random. It is not reliant on emotions and not always triggered by feelings. It is kind of like a business transaction. You have a problem you need advice on and your future actions can lead to something that will benefit the advisor. They usually would have thought things through even before you decide to come with your request for an advice. They have finally found a way to get what they have been wanting for a while. With this kind of advice, there is a 50/50 chance that the outcome will be horrible or really amazing. It just depends solely on what the hidden agenda is. You will notice the person giving the advice almost completing your sentences for you (disclaimer: it is possible for someone to complete your sentences without having this goal in mind. It is also a sign of a good listener so do not read too much meaning to this part of the identification process). What should make you wary is when the person completing your sentences is also adding information that has absolutely nothing to do with what you planned to say or is contorting all your words and making you think about a completely new idea. Remember, their mission is to present the hidden agenda in a way that is not too obvious but still clear enough to make you think it was your original plan. It is not called a hidden agenda for nothing.



Pros and Cons with a little advice:

With this kind of advice, you are guaranteed a cheerleader; just like the person with advice based on desired rebellion. However, unlike the person with advice based on desired rebellion, you are more likely to have this person even actively partake in the activities that will lead to the success of the hidden agenda with you. In this case, you are rarely ever going to be alone. I mean, how can they let you think for yourself for an extended period when they know that once they leave you for too long you are going to start coming back to your senses. Label that impossible. They will hang around like you guys are thicker than thieves. They will even create the illusion that there is a closeness that does not really exist. A plus here is that at least you will get a temporary buddy, especially if you do not really have that many friends. They are ready to do anything it takes to get what they want out of this.

The problem surfaces when the hidden agenda is accomplished and there is nothing else to conquer. There is a certain element of emptiness that follows. The end of this kind of advice is highly likely to break you because you will eventually realize that every single interaction you had with this person was calculated. You were living a lie or on a funnier note, you were living a mathematically equation. Nothing was really real. You were living in an illusion; a fantasy world.

The best thing to do is to pick up on this kind of advice and decide whether it is going to lead you to a path that is beneficial to you or not. If you feel you will gain from it, it is possible for you to follow through while remembering to not get emotionally attached in any way. Like I said earlier, it is a business transaction and in business there is no room for emotional ventures. All these being said, I would strongly recommend staying away from such advice because following through with it while you know what it really is can eventually change you as a person and make you become like the person giving the advice based on a hidden agenda. Life is too short to be that calculative. It is more enjoyable to create relationships based on truth and sincerity. Games will always come to an end. Do not end up being played by the same game you are trying to win; it is not worth it. Life favors pureness of heart in the long run so I would say run if you still can.



4. Advice Based on Solidarity- United We Stand, Divided We Fall

This kind of advice can be spotted easily but it requires extreme attentiveness. Have you noticed this person is always in support of everything you do, whether good or bad? Have you noticed that they always want to please you? Have noticed that you have never been contended by this person on your stance on a lot of life issues? Does this person give you advice that they normally would not give anyone else but it is “you” and all the rules automatically change? You might be dealing with a case of advice based on solidarity. Just like with advice based on a hidden agenda, this person is going to be there throughout the whole process. The main difference here is that the person’s active presence in your life does not end after the process. Everything is real. The emotional bonds and connections are real. The goal is for you to always be happy. With this kind of advisor, you have got a real ride or die kind of situation going on.



Pros and Cons with a little advice:

We all want to be part of something; feel like we have a team. It is the best feeling in the world to know that someone will always have your back and in this case your brain as well. They never want you to feel bad for your actions. They just want to be on your team. We all need this because life is never just black and white. There are other colors that are inevitably going to show up so it is a nice feeling to know that someone is going to be willing to see them with you.

The problem now arises when you might be going off the handle and this person is cheering you on unconditionally. This is a case where I would highly recommend you having other sounding boards. Thing is, this kind of advice is not always going to lead you astray. Sometimes it is going to lead you to greater things as it is not always wrong. However, the problem is how can you know when you are wrong. They might tell you but sometimes not in the way you need to hear it. I am not saying you need someone that is going to condemn you and make you feel worthless. I am just saying that sometimes you need someone like the person who gives advice based on neutrality; someone who can take a more objective look at things.



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5. Advice Based on Neutrality- Justice Must Prevail

This kind of advice usually brings forth good results in the long run. It usually comes from someone who truly wants you to be happy without forgetting that they have to be fair to all parties involved. You get this a lot from people who are big on doing the right thing no matter what the circumstances might be. Explanations of why you did what you did often times means nothing to them. All they want is justice and their advice is usually filled with how justice most be gotten. They usually have no stakes in the issue you are presenting so it is quite easy for them to separate all distracting factors. This kind of advice comes from someone who is not looking to please you but rather gain full perspective on how everything can be settled. Having experience is not a factor here because every case is a new and fresh one to this person giving the advice.



Pros and Cons with a little advice:

The main benefit of getting advice based on neutrality is that you are quite certain that this advice will have no evil or misleading undertones; you are sure of the high level of objectivity. Malicious intent is far from you in this case. You can be sure that you are being judged fairly and properly and given insight that is free from any contamination.

Too much of anything is bad. Sometimes you need advice that will push you to do things that might not be ideal and pleasing to all but is necessary for your happiness. Like I always say: life is too short to just come and die. You do not need to physically die to die. If you choose to not live your life freely then you are not really living and if you are not really living, you might as well be dead. Sometimes taking that bold and unconventional step is what you need to do. People might look at you in a bad way for a while but deep down they will admire you for doing something they know they will never have the guts to do. Live your life but be kind to others.



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6. Advice Based on Desired Rebellion- If I Were You I would But I Am Not You So I Will Not

This kind of advice is sometimes hard to identify. The best way to spot it is to take the advice and put it side-by-side with your view of the advisor’s life. What does their life show you? Are they going to that party they so desperately want you to go to? Are they living a very peaceful life but encouraging you to cause war in yours? Are they pushing you to cross limits they ordinarily would never want to cross? If the answer is yes to all these questions, then you are dealing with a person who is giving you a desired rebellion kind of advice. It is not that they do not want to do all these things. The thing is that they have seen you as someone who is bold or stupid enough to live out their fantasies. You are sort of their lab rat. They want to live life vicariously through you. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the thrill that comes with what you will later experience but do not want to deal with any of the consequences that will follow.



Pros and Cons with a little advice:

To be an ardent follower of this kind of advice, it takes a lot of blind trust that might be translated to someone watching from the outside as “guts.” Here you get not only a cheerleader that will supply you with constant motivation but also someone who will continually provide you with new stunts to try out. New and fun adventures await you here.

There’s a high possibility of being left hanging. You are very likely to hear things like “I only suggested it”, “I did not say you should actually do that”, “I cannot believe you really take all I say seriously” and many more similar phrases of vindication and lack of accountability. There is no liability here.

If you enjoy being put in an ever-running experiment, you are free to keep being a daredevil in this person’s movie. You will learn a lot. As a matter of fact, you might even become famous for being so dauntless. If you are not pleased, however, I would advise you to start being mindful of what you take from this person. Yes, you need experience but not the kind that literally has nothing to do with your journey in life. Be careful. Be wise. Your life is important to me.


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7. Advice Based on Past Experience – Back Then I Was…

Usually people who give this kind of advice mean well. They wouldhate for someone else to go through the same thing they might still be regretting after so many years. Therefore, it is always good to at least hear them out and pick one or two things from their book of knowledge. Most times, it will not hurt. Sometimes, it might be at the detriment of your growth as a person. It all just depends on how much you take in and how you process what is taken in.



Pros and Cons with a little advice:

With this kind of advice, you have a formula to use. You have a road map that is well-tailored to this person’s past experiences. You have an idea of what that road you are trying to pass through might look like. You can always return to this person to get more advice. You can always come back with the “this did not work, what should I do next?” report. I am not say that people who give this kind of advice will be ever-willing to take accountability for any errors that occur when you yield to their advice, but the possibility is always higher than the person who gives you advice based on their desired rebellion.

However, you are not certain that where you are headed is exactly where they ended up. What if that bushy area with snakes and scorpions is not as bushy as it was when this person last saw it? What if the person forgot to wear more protective shoes before going on their journey, put on slippers and got terribly messed up by the mud they stepped in but you know better?  The main problem with taking advice from a person with experience in a certain area of life is that you are very likely to follow exactly what they tell you and classify it as a guide to follow word-for-word. This is how subconscious fears are formed. Boundaries that you would normally not think of creating will be created. Visions that your brain would have never thought of forming will begin to form randomly.

Think out of the box sometimes. You are not this person. Remember that. They might be frightened by the sound of thunder and you might not be. So, looking for ear plugs whenever you know it is about to rain will not help you. Find what works for you. Test theories out yourself. Make mistakes. Allow yourself to go through some things so you will know how to better improve your approach to handling life situations. It is said that it is smarter to learn from someone else’s mistakes. While there is a lot of truth to that, I do believe it is fairer to your journey in life to get firsthand experience; especially in things you plan to fully invest in. Territories that are notoriously known to carry a lot of uncertainty like the matters of the heart and unexplored business ventures should be handled with care and analyzed with patience and discernment.

Notice when the advice begins to get too personal. Notice when there is more anger than there is pain in their stories. Guard your ears and your mind with your life. Try to stay around as much positivity as you can possibly be around. Fall down, pick yourself up and before you walk away make sure you gather all the lessons you need for your next attempt on that life exam you need to pass. Life is beautiful. Experience it.





Add Yours
  1. Jay

    Really good read, all the points were spot on. Its funny that some of these advices we get from our friends might not always be in our best interest and I’m glad you broke it down in details. I realllllyyyyyy love this. Keep up the good work and looking forward to more reads from you.


  2. Zainab Suleiman

    Nicely written. Very insightful and eloquent. I learnt a few things as well and found myself in some of the situations you talked about. I’ve been getting advice based on idleness and life experience a lot lately. Especially idleness, from people who talk too much. Will try to take what I can from it and filter out the rest. Anyway, point is I loved your article and Will be coming back for more. Thanks for sharing love!


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