ask for help

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Ask For Advice

When faced with a big decision, it is natural for you to seek advice from friends, colleagues, and experts. Sadly, it can also be natural to ignore that advice when you don’t hear what you want to…

I was chatting with my friend Fred and he was lamenting the very high mortgage payments he had to make. Not only were the payments high, but after the real estate bubble burst the property was worth less than the mortgage (not an unfamiliar situation for many these days, I am sure).

Fred says, “the stupid thing is that before I bought the property I was talking to one of these ‘real estate gurus.’ I asked him, ‘is it time to buy real estate yet?’ He said, ‘no.’ So of course I went and bought the house anyway.”

Fred said this not out of anger or spite, but simply out of humorous self-reflection. He knew how ridiculous it made him sound. But we have all been on both sides of this; getting advice that we don’t take and being asked for advice that others ignore.

It’s natural to want to argue against or ignore advice that we don’t like. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s right. Seeking advice is a smart thing to do, but before you do, make sure you are ready to accept it.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to before you ask for advice:

Are You Looking For Advice or Validation?

Often when we go looking for advice we are really just looking for people to pat us on the back and say, “yes, what you are doing is correct, keep doing it.” Or we have an option that we want to be right (even though deep down we know it isn’t) so we go looking for advice that will tell us it is.

My friend wanted to buy a house. He wasn’t necessarily looking to find out if the time was right or not; he was looking for someone to validate that yes, the time was right.

Don’t bother asking for advice if all you are looking for is approval. It won’t work out well for anyone.

Are You Ready For the Truth?

Seeking advice without an open mind is like mining for gold while blindfolded: even if you came across a “golden nugget,” you would never even realize it?

If you’re going to go through the trouble of seeking advice, and if you’re going to take up someone else’s time getting it, then the least you can do is be very open to anything and everything they say (Note: this is *not* the same as when someone gives you unsolicited advice; this is just for when *you* are asking *them* for their opinion).

The truth hurts. The person may advise you to do something you really don’t want to do. They may tell you that your brilliant idea has a huge flaw. They may tell you that, in their opinion, you are making a huge mistake.

If you’re not ready to face the truth, don’t bother seeking the advice.

Are You Ignoring Advice Out of Emotion or Logic?

I’m not saying that just because someone gives you advice that you have to take it. Heck, I’ve ignored lots of advice in my day! Ultimately you are in control of your own life and only you get to decide what’s best for you. But if you are going to ignore someone’s advice, then make sure you understand why.

Are you ignoring the advice because you have thought it through fully and decided that in your particular situation it doesn’t make sense? Or are you ignoring it because it makes you uncomfortable, or you don’t like it, or it’s not what you wanted to hear? The former is a perfectly valid reason; the latter is going to get you in trouble.

Be careful! Humans are brilliant at making decisions emotionally and justifying rationally. Make certain that your reasons for ignoring the advice (which you sought out) are truly logical, not emotional.

The next time you are faced with a difficult or complex decision, review these three questions before seeking advice. If you are blessed enough to have smart experienced people who can help you, then these questions just may prevent you from stupidly ignoring what they say.

Avish Parashar is the Motivational Smart Ass. As a motivational humorist and blogger, Avish makes people laugh while giving them simple ideas to make their lives easier and more successful. To read more of his ridiculous rantings on self improvement, watch videos of him in action, and download the free “How to Think Quick” MP3, visit


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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