6 Reasons We Don't Take Good Advice

Whether romantic advice, career advice, or financial advice, there are a a slew of professionals out there that offer it . Some free of charge. Some we pay for. Yet, I (and I suspect many of us) are not always good at taking it.  Even advice we’ve paid for.

How many stories revolve around a hero or heroine not wanting to listen to their aunt, brother, sister, mother, uncle about who the right person is for them? Especially if it turns out that person was right?

After doing some digging, here are the reasons I’ve come up with:

1. The Advice is Bad – We’ve all been given bad advice, even by a professional.Sometimes it’s because we haven’t given them the whole story. Sometimes because they don’t understand. And perhaps sometimes because they really don’t know.

Tried this. It didn’t work. Co-workers looked at me like I was from Mars.

2. The Advice Conflicts With What We Want – I know i’m guilty of this. Not one, but two financial advisers told me not to try to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to hear them. I lived through the Great Recession and remember how much belt-tightening we had to do to get through it when our primary income was cut by 50%. I don’t ever want to go through that again.


3. Discouraging –  You see this less with professional advice as they are (usually) in the business to help you succeed.

4. Gut Instinct Takes You Another Direction – This is so nebulous, but sometimes, you just know something is wrong. It intrudes on your thoughts during quiet times. You find yourself mulling it over again and again. I have no idea what gut instinct is, (although I suspect it’s your brain working on a problem in the background) but it seems to be right most of the time.

5. It Differs From Other Advice You’ve Gotten – This is always difficult, especially when you’ve gotten advice from two professionals or two very trusted friends/family members.

6. Anger – Or other negative emotions make us much less likely to take even good advice. Here are other good reasons from real psychologists. Granted, these are mostly work related, but they could be applicable.


I guess this means I need to look at Point #2 and reconsider the advice an editor gave me on my manuscript. Just because I don’t want it to be true, doesn’t make it wrong.



How about you? How willing are you to take advice? What makes you willing or unwilling to take advice? How about offer it?

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2 thoughts on “6 Reasons We Don't Take Good Advice

  1. This is (as usual) a great post. I think 2 and 4 are hard to tell apart. Is it a correct gut instinct? Or a dislike? I tend to over ignore my gut, but also over do it on the things I don’t like. So basically, doing the worst thing in a lot of cases. But then how much is our not liking based on a gut feeling? I’m not sure.

    That said? I over give advice. I have been trying to cut down unless people specifically ask. But it is hard when you feel like you can see the right answer. (Especially when with someone or some situation you’re really on a good streak of just being super damn right! But being right doesn’t mean someone will listen, even if they need it, because of all the things you said. So sometimes it is better to just shut your mouth.

  2. So, what I was trying to get at with 2 is sometimes you just don’t want to do it even if you agree it might be right. Like with rewriting Knight of Valor without flipping between POV. Its what agents and publishers say they want, but I don’t want to do it. Are they right? Probably. They have their pulse on what is expected of new authors, whereas I have been readin a lot of authors established “long” ago.

    Number 4 is more along the lines of when you have this little voice saying the advice is wrong. That twisting in your stomache saying the advice sounds solid, but maybe isn’t. For example, I was told my an editor that I needed to be meaner to the hero in Knight of valor in a way that didn’t work for me. Basically, the advice was he should become less and less powerful the more in falls in love with the heroine. I listened to the advice and didn’t argue, but I didn’t like it. It sat in my stomach wrong. It changed him and his god (fantasy world) in a very fundamental way. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the advice was coming from a suspense/horror writer that did editing for all genres. I could see how this would work in her genres, but I felt like she was missing the core alpha male romance protagnoist.

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