Your friends don’t necessarily know what they are talking about but may be good to bounce off for ideas and opinions.
They may mean well. They may even have your best interests at heart. Friends are wonderful. Anyone willing to be a true friend deserves nothing but your absolute loyalty and devotion. You will never regret loving a friend.
But don’t listen to them all the time and believe that their opinion is correct.
Friends are great companions, but they are often horrible counselors. They can give bad advice. They may encourage poor decisions. They often make the same mistakes we make.
The qualities which make someone a potential friend also may make them a poor guide. We befriend people like us. Our friends generally have the same income, drive similar cars, have the same hobbies, vote like us, and see the world like us. By befriending people like us we tend to have great fun.
However, what creates great fun does not often create great wisdom. Friends are excellent sympathizers but sometimes horrible advisers. They may be bad advisers because they are like us. They often struggle with the same struggles, have the same weakness, and are prone to the same blind spots.
Some friends however may be toxic and not good for you. The friend who doesn’t support you when something major changes in your life. Say you get a new job or a great promotion. When you tell your friends, you want them to be excited for you, not try to one-up you, change the conversation topic, or say something backhanded and nasty about your work to create doubt in your mind. When you share in your friend’s excitement, it’s not too much to expect him or her to do the same — that’s normal.
The friend who is never happy for you because he or she’s jealous. You know who it is because he or she’s constantly making backhanded comments about everything you do and trying way too hard to one-up you. If he or she’s busier comparing herself to you than being your friend, well…. Is this person worth your time?
The friend who is negative about everything all the time. They may have negative comments about every person you meet, every work meeting you go to, every document you produce. Hanging out with other negative people just makes you feel bad. You are excited and want positive energy, you deserve to feel like you are valued in and out of work!
When I was a kid in Ireland starting my career in hotel management, everyone would try to give me advice. They were adults and I was an adolescent, it made sense. I would always listen and try to apply what they said until one day it hit me: if you can’t be better than me, you shouldn’t instruct me. I instituted a new rule—I don’t listen to you unless you are better than me at that particular task, in that particular situation or add real value to my life and future.
It’s a rule that works beyond adolescence.
- Don’t take marriage advice from someone in a struggling marriage.
- Don’t get money advice from someone in debt.
- Don’t receive career counselling from someone unhappy with their job.
Find an adviser who is an expert in the area in which you need advice. You don’t have to like them, enjoy them, or want to be like them. They are not your friend; they are your adviser.
If your marriage is struggling, listen to someone who is happily married or seek the advice of a counselor who has helped many couples on the verge of divorce. Do not take counsel from your friend whose marriage is just as bad as yours.
My friend should be my friend; advice about life and work should be left to the experts.
“Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war,” Proverbs 20.18.
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