Advice columns, the sanctuary of the lonely, the bored, those with too much time on their hands and those who like to tell others what they think or read what others think. But who cares what they think? People cared what Claire Rayner thought because she was a well known agony aunt advisor. People also cared about Marjorie Proops' thoughts and those of Deidre Sanders and now it is the turn of Charlotte Craig where lots of people who matter hang on her every word. The idea of reading a special column in a publication has been replaced by coming onto your computer and seeing something which is the equivalent here.
Charlotte has been advising people face to face and online for over thirty five years. People care what she thinks because she is very good at understanding situations and people and has a lot of knowledge and experience. For a long time she has been employment peole to help her with this. One thing she has noticed over and over again is that there are a lot of people out there who like to think they are good enough to do this for money yet those same people canot sort out their own home life nor can they get a reasonable position elsewhere yet they cannot see that if they cannot help themselves they cannot help others. Either they live on a different planet or they see that the other person has a problem and launch into responding without stopping to think of what they have to say is worth listening to. It may be that because they do not stop and think that they have their own issues.
But another thing that she noticed was that if you ask these people for facts and figures they go quiet. They realise that only black and white facts and figures will do. But if you ask them something such as "should I divorce my husband?" people who have never been married, never been in love, never been disappointed in a relationship or ever sat down and had a long serious indepth talk with such a person suddenly think they know the answers because they think that saying anything will do. What they say is not based on experience or knowledge or wisdom but on just saying something. It makes them feel important.
Here are some examples of daft guidance...
Problem - Desperately short of money, can barely afford to pay for the bare essentials - daft guidance -
Go on a holiday. Why is this daft? Do you really need to ask?! If the person is short of money they should be looking for an answer to how to bring in more not how to spend it. And they need a permanent solution not a temporary one where they are back to square one soon after.
Problem - Very lonely, no family or friends - work from home doing a job I adore and which keeps me sane - daft guidance - Give up the employment you love and devote all of your time to looking after old people for free. Why is this daft? Because the one thing that this person is happy about is work, you do not mess with things that are sorted. You only change things that are not working. And you do not create more problems by changing things. If this person gives up the job they love they will become more sad, maybe very depressed, they will also have problems with finances because they are not longer doing something they love that pays the bills. Working for free is not always possible especially when full time. And it does not follow that it fits everyone or fulfills any of their needs. But another very good reason why this advice was dumb is because the person asking for help said they are lonely and lack family and friends. They are not going to get family and friends by being with very old people all of the time. They would want to have people of their own age and people who they can consider to be friends, not just people they are working with or people who are too old for them. Working all day in a job they hate would only fill their fill nothing else and there is no point to them changing a job they love (which pays ) for one they hate (which does not).
Problem - I am a lady seeing a married man. He asks me to wait until he can sort out his marriage and leave. Should I wait? It will take three years. Daft advice - He is lying and just saying this to use you. This is daft because? Because unless you know this guy very well you do not KNOW that he is a liar. He may be one of the few men who truly do intend to leave and sort out things. Yes there are only a few who do this and yes many do lie but this does not mean that you KNOW that this man is a liar. The person asking for advice did not ask if he was a liar and they know him better than you. Never ever write back to a client as though they are a fool - even if you can clearly see that they are one. You are there to make them feel better as well as to tell them the truth.
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