Your Advice is Biased

Read time —
2 Minutes
Last updated
February 27, 2024
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There are two sides to every coin.

Neither two sides are the same. Metals are mixed, heated to the point they are soft, and then stamped at the mint. The markings on one side contain a raised image of an important person’s head. On the other, some decorative markings normally show the value of the coin. These hallmarks explain the names we give each side.

‘Heads’ is rather obvious and ‘tails’ because it’s the opposite of heads.

The coin becomes hard and inert and takes great force to change its shape and structure.

You can’t say the same for advice.

Yes, there are two sides to a piece of advice, but unlike a coin, they are certainly not dormant. That’s because we stand as either the giver or the receiver of this advice. We are both biased in how we give the advice—and how we receive it.

Consider this:

“Whether we regard someone’s opinion as a fact or as an opinion depends on whether they are criticizing or complimenting us.”

This—from the perspective of the receiver is damming. Confirmation bias here is ignoring the advice itself and using its context to confirm its value. At the same time, think of the giver of such advice. Is he or she going to offer advice untainted by their perception of how it will be received?

We might kid ourselves we are rational and objective when it comes to giving and receiving advice, but in truth, we’re not. Confirmation bias—amongst others—is changing the tone, the sentiment, and the words we share before we give them—and before we receive them.

Unbiasing Advice

Can you overcome this?

In the immediate moments before giving and receiving it’s hard not to let your biases hold sway on your judgement. So, I have a question you need to ask — especially if you’re on the receiving end of the advice.

How could you quickly prove or disprove the advice you’re receiving?

The answer lies in thinking of ways to test the advice you’ve heard. If you can’t—I would suggest that instantly invalidates the advice. If it can’t be tested, then how can be factual?

It is nothing more than an opinion.

Equally, with a test, you gain immediate information. Gone is the need for judgement on who gave it, or whether it’s nice or not. Now you have hard data to use when it comes to taking the original advice and using it on a bigger scale.

Don’t judge, test.

That’s how you should deal with all advice because it’s always biased.

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