I’ve put off commenting on this controversy, mainly because I have no interest in taking part in whatever the current social media flavor-of-the-month might be. But this particular one is continuing, and the discussion almost inevitably neglects to take into account a basic principle of communication, a neglect that not only fuels controversy, but fuels violence.
Alfred Korzybski in particular made us aware of this basic principle through his insights in the field that became known as general semantics.
General semantics involves a lot of insights, actually, but the one I’m focusing on today is this: the map is not the territory.
I have it lucky, in a way. Because I post on a blog, I can assume that if you are here, it’s OK for me to give advice. After all, if you don’t want it, you won’t come here in the first place–unless you just like hearing me bleed!
Perhaps you have noticed (as have I, though I am still working on remembering what I’ve noticed) that face-to-face advice works differently. Just because people have problems doesn’t mean they are open to your advice. Even if they say, “I have a problem,” they may still simply seek a sympathetic ear rather than advice.
Why People May Not Want Your Advice not only looks into the psychology of the phenomenon, but also offers solid advice about how to avoid giving too much advice. But don’t go looking at it unless you actually want advice!
Photo from Flickr user GotCredit under CC attribution license.