Don't Give (or Take) Bad Advice

Advice is like shoes - it's never one size fits all. So before you take (or give) advice, make sure it's actually worthwhile. Modern Manners Guy has 3 examples of bad advice that can do more harm than good.

Richie Frieman,
May 12, 2014
Episode #295

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The other day, my friend Alan told me a story about how his sister dumped her boyfriend in an incredibly embarrassing and public manner. Alan couldn't have been prouder of his baby sister for her boldness.  And when the story was over he added, “I’m glad she took my advice.”>

I thought that he was referring to the fact he advised her to stand up for herself and dump a loser, but that wasn’t the case. His advice was, “Dump him in front of his friends so they know what a jerk he is.” 


Not exactly the brotherly advice I was expecting. 

Whether it’s mean-spirited, humorous, or even well-deserved, there should always be a certain level of decorum when it comes to doling out advice. So before you take (or give) out advice, check my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips:

Tip #1: The Not-So-Funny Advice

As a humorist, I’m a big fan of all things funny.  Even if I’m the butt of the joke, I’ll take it. So as someone who practices the comedic arts, when I hear a funny or embarrassing story, I can’t help but get a kick out of it.

However, there is a line that you can easily cross to go from “ha-ha funny” to plain old mean.  Such is the case with my friend Alan who gave his sister the questionable advice for dumping her boyfriend. This was an example of something that sounds funny on paper… but not in real life. When advice is better suited for a Seth Rogan comedy than the real world, you have ask yourself, “Is this really the best advice for my situation?”

I discussed a similar issue in my earlier episode, The Etiquette of Honesty. Just because you say “I’m just being honest” to cover up the fact that you’re being a jerk doesn't negate your jerkiness. The same goes for not-so-funny advice. Just because it sounds funny, doesn’t make it good advice in reality.

Advice that leads to humiliation and burned bridges going north, south, east, and west will come back to bite you. 

Yes, humor can sometimes defuse a bad situation. But being a mannerly, polite person means that you’re above such juvenile approaches. Advice that you deep down know is just for laughs is a perfect example of someone trying to humiliate another person. Not cool.

Tip #2: The Finisher

How many action movies have we all seen where someone yells out, “Finish him!” to the hero fighting the alien, terrorist, or whatever villain is getting his comeuppance.

In an action movie, it’s great advice.  Unfortunately, this is real life. 

Think about any awful, toxic relationship you've been in. The one where you caught a partner cheating, or where your boss gave a raise to their idiot son over you, the seasoned vet, or where your best friend went cruelly behind your back. Go ahead…think about it.

I’ll give you a moment to really let it brew...

Yup, that's what "the finisher" feels like. 

And that is why advising someone to land the final blow is a bad idea (as is accepting such advice). Advice that leads to humiliation and burned bridges going north, south, east, and west will come back to bite you. 


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