Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why don't we follow good advice?

Today, I was pondering the question of why people don’t follow the advice given to them. I believe there are several potential explanations regarding why we don’t do what is suggested, assuming the advice is good.

One reason is that the person really does not understand the advice. We need to be sure to listen carefully, ask questions, take notes or ask for visual aids to ensure we fully understand the advice being provided. The key to understanding is to know what to do, how to do it and the logic underlying the recommended actions.

Another potential reason is that we don’t fully trust the person giving us the advice. In other words, we question whether or not their expertise is valid regarding the subject the advice is being offered on. One way in which we can validate their expertise is through questioning. Before taking advice, I first make sure I fully understand what is being recommended and why. Unless the full logic makes sense to me, I won’t act on the advice. I check it using cause-and-effect logic in general and based on knowledge I have acquired in life thus far.

Another reason for not following someone’s advice relates to the difference between what was explained and what actions you took to implement it. When I learned how to write Strategy and Tactic trees, I realized how important it is to clearly explain actions in terms of what the action is for and why the action is the best choice for achieving the objective. The only way a person can follow advice well is by fully understanding the advice. For example, it is not just about knowing the rules. When you know the rules and the logic of the rules, you can understand what to do in different situations. Then, you will know how and when to break a rule effectively to still achieve the desired objective.

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