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Who should you listen to?

I work in schools where I teach children under the age of 9. Most often, a typical lesson begins with most of them all talking to me at once. Literally. It goes like this:

Me: Good morning everyone.

Class: Goooooood mooooorning Miiiiister Caaalder.

Me: Okay, so today…

17 kids interrupting all at once: Mr Calder!!! I/my/we/our can swim/mother’s birthday/got a new puppy/went to Spur on the weekend…

Now, I know what you’re you’re thinking… that’s kids. But I’ve noticed the exact same intuitive behaviour in adults. They’ll ask you a question, you begin to answer and before you know it they’re monologging their own answer…

This whole thing has got me thinking that everyone has a LOT to say. Some of it is interesting, but much of it is actually stuff where you need to hear what is not being said… you have to read between the lines…

Nowadays, I find myself really needing wisdom on how to live. From the mundane through to the complex. So my question is: who’s advice should you be listening to? When everyone and the yapping Yorkie have an opinion, how do you weed out the nonsense from the gold?

I like what Erica Jong says: “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of people out there and they all have a lot to say about stuff. How does one discern which is good and which is bad? How do you figure out the helpful from the destructive?

Well, here’s a list of things I find helpful:

  1. Do they have your best interests at heart?
  2. Do they have similar values to you? If they think money is the most important thing in the world and you don’t (or vice versa) then their advice might not be right for you.
  3. Do they understand you and your situation?
  4. Are they biased about your situation for any reason? (For example, did they make a mistake in a similar situation which is still haunting them?)
  5. Has their advice been helpful in the past?
  6. Give yourself some time to let the advice sink in. Get some distance. If you feel defensive or annoyed, you’ll be able to be more objective after these feelings have faded a little bit. See how the advice looks in the cold light of day.
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