Unmotivated people need to give advice, not receive it

Do you think that you need someone else’s advice in order to get motivated and move your life and career forward? What you might in fact need is for someone to ask you for advice.

New research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business has found that giving advice may increase motivation and confidence, and that people struggling with motivation benefit more from giving advice than receiving it. The study also found that most people believe the opposite to be true.

Booth Professor Ayelet Fishbach, along with the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauren Eskries-Winkler and Angela Duckworth found that people struggling to achieve goals incorrectly assumed that they needed expert advice to succeed, when in fact they were better helped by giving advice.

According to a media release giving the advice motivated people by boosting their confidence. And we all know that confidence is something you need to achieve your goals.

The findings were consistent across a series of experiments including improving study habits, saving money, controlling tempers, losing weight and job hunting.

In one experiment with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, researchers asked one group of students to give advice to younger students about staying motivated in school, and asked another group to get advice about same from a teacher.

Before, during and after the intervention, the researchers tracked how much time the kids spend studying vocabulary through an online program. They found that advice givers studied vocabulary 38% more in the four weeks after the intervention than did the advice recipients.

The researchers said that the act of giving the advice makes the giver feel powerful and confident, and” restores some of the confidence lost when people have routinely fallen short of goals.” They also said that “confident people set higher goals for themselves and remain more committed to them over time.”

But for those lacking motivation, receiving advice may actually be harmful because it can undermine feelings of competence, the authors said.

They also write in their study that “In the process of giving advice, advisors may form specific intentions and lay out concrete plans of action—both of which increase motivation and achievement.”

Basically, while giving that advice, you’re required to reason out your plan and make suggestions. This means looking at what has worked for you in the past and may work again in future.

This isn’t all that surprising to us. We also know about research that shows asking people for advice makes them think you’re smart. The reasoning here being that if you think their opinion is worth something then you must be smart yourself. So, if you want to ingratiate yourself with a boss or colleague, ask them for advice. They’ll love you for it.

Meanwhile, it may be more difficult to find practical applications of the new research for frustrated job seekers, as it might be hard to get someone to ask you to give advice. But you can apply it to an unmotivated friend, and help out by asking them for advice. And you can always give out unsolicited advice. Everyone loves that. Just kidding. Don’t do that. But if someone does ask you, go ahead and give it.




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