I have trouble taking advice from authority figures. How to change?
June 28, 2014 4:03 PM Subscribe
By "authority figures" I mean people with more experience who are, extrapolating from that, more knowledgeable than myself. I know asking for advice on how to take advice is ironic, but help.
posted by jumelle to Human Relations (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure where to begin but:
1) A lot of advice, even when it's good, is not given in a respectful manner. For me, the delivery of information gets wrapped up in what kind of person I think is delivering it, and I wind up irritated and distracted whenever I try to implement advice from someone I feel is disrespectful. I wind up questioning whether it was legitimate advice or someone devising an excuse to put on airs. I frequently find myself wanting to outright contradict advice, even if that advice was something I'd already planned to follow through on independently. Once someone provides input, I the reflexive and dire need to invent a way to succeed while doing the exact opposite of what they have suggested. I worry a lot about being treated differently or worse than others.
2) The delivery of advice is frequently hackneyed. Things like, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," or, "Have you tried medication? (Metafilter ClassicTM)" leave me wondering if the question was truly taken into consideration, or if the person giving advice is just repeating the last thing they heard someone else say.
3) Sometimes, even when the advice is ultimately helpful, it has no immediately apparent value, or the value of it is taken for granted. It's hard to trust that others know what they're talking about, and it's hard to stick things out without resentment (like how Daniel-san got mad after having to wax Mr. Miyagi's car).
4) Because I overthink things, I have a hard time following or understanding all but the most specific of instructions. For instance, if I were wearing a king costume and the costume manager, for exaggerated example, told me: "Get rid of the crown, it's too big," I'd have a hard time following that. My mind would immediately take it to a dozen different places, ie, "Does he mean the crown is too big overall, or just too big for me? Does he want me to get rid of it permanently or will the crown be okay in other situations? Maybe he was actually saying '2Bigg' which is a name brand of costume crowns. He thinks I'm wearing a hat from a company that abuses laborers from other countries and that's why he wants me to get rid of it."
I am always misinterpreting people but it's difficult to ask for the level of elaboration that I need (almost always a lot for the advice to be understandable) without feeling like a pest. Additionally, it's hard for me to articulate questions, because I'm not sure what I need to ask in order to understand a person accurately and I don't want to come off as disrespectful (grilling them) or stupid (Why did I bring up labor rights in a conversation about hat sizes?).
Whenever someone says something and I don't understand them, I feel like I'm cornered. I feel like my only options are a) To give up on understanding them, b) To ask for elaboration, but tread on eggshells and fill the questions with so much toadying and sweetness so that it could not possibly be interpreted as offensive (insincere on top of being deeply anxiety inducing) c) Ask normally, without a lot of embellishment or explaining of myself, but at the risk of seeming like I'm grilling the person in question. I don't exude an air of friendliness (for me, it feels creepy to smile a lot) and my questions are numerous and inane, so it's easy for me to imagine why someone would assume I was being a condescending dick by asking so many. After past experience, I almost always stick to A and B. I wish I could use C (speaking normally to people) without coming off like an ass.
5) That's about it. I'm not sure how to contextualize this information without giving too much away, but in the situation that we're in, it's normal for some people to be giving advice to others. Also, this situation is not occurring in a work environment (thank god), so all of the baggage that would be wrapped up in that would not be relevant.