3 Types of People You Should Never Listen To

by George P.H. on January 30, 2013

neverlisten

Opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one. (There, I said it). It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do: someone will always have something to say.

This can be useful. Other people teach us most of what we know. The sharing of knowledge is a great and powerful thing.

Unfortunately, most of the advice you get is useless and misguided. Even worse, listening to the wrong person’s opinion can be toxic to you and your undertakings.

So today, let’s talk about 3 types of people you should never listen to.

The Armchair Expert

Some people always have something to say – even if they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

In high school this one kid told me that doing a BMX ollie involved “squeezing the bike between your legs and jumping”. That’s an armchair expert for you: as soon as he said that, I knew I’d never take anything he had to say about BMX’ing seriously.

But things aren’t always so clear-cut. Good armchair experts are confident, persuasive and – on the surface – reasonable.

I’m talking about the naturally athletic guy who never works out, looks great and swears that the secret to his success is “drinking grape juice bro”.

I’m talking about the small, weak trainers at your gym who keep telling you that bosu balls are the best thing since sliced bread.

After listening to people like these for a while, you’ll start to nod your head and wonder if they might be right. Maybe grape juice IS a miracle fat burner. Maybe jumping around on a bosu ball IS the fastest way to get ripped.

“This’ll really improve up your core stability… Whatever that means”

Not so fast.

Before you believe anything anyone has to say, look for 3 things: knowledge, experience and results.

If a person’s never successfully done something – or at least helped someone else do it – their opinion has no value and can be ignored.

Stop taking relationship advice from the friend who last had sex in 2004. Stop listening to the freak athlete who tells you that ice cream never made anyone fat.

Unless someone’s been where you’ve been and has what you want, take everything they say with a grain of salt.

The Hater

Most of the time, other people don’t want you to succeed.

I write about this extensively in The Manual of Confidence but here are the main points:

  • Even the people in your inner circle can be scared of losing you to success.
  • Those who don’t like you want you to fail out of jealousy and competitiveness.
  • When you do well, the pressure is on for everyone around to succeed as well.
  • Misery loves company – unhappy people want you to be unhappy too.

I’m not saying the world is full of hostile people who want you to screw up out of malice. But even a loving parent can hold their child back from moving out and becoming independent for fear of losing them. It’s human nature.

So when someone gives you advice, don’t automatically assume it’s good-natured. Unless it’s positive and constructive, chances are that the person giving it is a hater.

(Not in the sense that they hate you but in the sense that they’d hate to see you succeed – for whatever reason).

Buying into what haters have to say will make you doubt yourself and screw with your self-esteem. So while it’s always good to get a second opinion, be very careful about taking advice – other people usually want you to fail.

The Emotional Adviser

The last kind of person you should always ignore is the emotional adviser: the person who gives advice based on emotion and personal experience instead of logic.

One example is the heartbroken friend telling you that all girls are cheaters/jerks. Another example is when a guy who’s always struggled to lose weight says that “some people are just meant to be fat”.

If you want to do something out of the ordinary with your life, expect to get a lot of emotional advice. I know I did when I quit my job to be a full-time life coach. A lot of it was from my then-girlfriend. The idea of life coaching for a living was so unusual to her that she didn’t see how I’d make it work. Although I already had a bunch of satisfied clients and more lined up, she kept nudging me to give up.

And I can only imagine what someone like Leah heard when she decided to quit her job without another one to go to in a bad economy.

Look – at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how anyone else feels. You’re you and if you feel good about a decision, that’s the only thing that matters. So learn to ignore emotional advice and always do what you feel is right.

-

The armchair expert, the hater and the emotional adviser: 3 types of people whose opinion you should always ignore.

The funny thing is, these people often genuinely want to help you with their advice. But since they lack experience, good intentions and objectivity – in that order – nothing they say can really help you.

So learn to separate good advice from bad and always trust your heart. Much success to you in 2013!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Billy Taylor January 30, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Wow. This is eerily well-timed for where my life’s currently at, George–just what I needed to hear, right when I needed to hear it. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say that I recently decided to seize an extremely rare opportunity that I’d been afforded–an opportunity which, I’d wager modestly, the average person would’ve wasted (if they’d even recognized it)–and, naturally, I’ve subsequently been receiving a host of advice, mainly of the “hater” and “emotional” kind. So thanks for this, George. I needed some backup.

What’s especially eerie is that since I’ve had a little more caffeine than usual today (therefore am feeling a little more opinionated than usual), I was feeling compelled to write and was thinking of articulating my feelings on just about this exact same topic–but, lo and behold, you thoroughly beat me to it; these three categories are pretty comprehensive.

Though there is one more “type of person you should never listen to” that I’d like to add–a subcategory of the “armchair expert,” if you will:

“The Overly Enthusiastic Recent Convert”

Just like “misery loves company,” so does happiness. “Happiness is best shared,” as it’s been said. Thus, this is the person that has become absolutely ecstatic about their recent discovery and feels that they just HAVE TO share it. This person honestly means well–they genuinely want you to experience their joy and excitement–but they completely fail to see their advice objectively:

-Maybe it’s the classic: they’ve been spiritually saved and have now set out to evangelize, refusing to rest until you TOO find the good word/book for the sake of your eternal soul.

-Maybe a fitness guru recently told them about the (supposed) benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, and now they’re intent on making sure that you TOO are taking a dozen daily fish-oil capsules to prevent potential deficiencies.

-Maybe they’ve just been enthralled with the latest John Grisham novel, and now they’re recommending/demanding that you TOO read it, certain that you’ll recognize its literary dynamism and won’t be able to put it down either.

-Maybe they’ve been watching a lot of cable news lately, and now they feel it’s practically their civic duty to drill their favorite pundit’s or media outlet’s talking points into your head until you TOO become enlightened in your political views.

Again, this person innocently means well, so it’s probably best to just smile and placate them with words like “maybe” (while trying your best not to laugh at their naivety).

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George P.H. February 2, 2013 at 11:58 am

I think we all know THOSE people :) . I guess it’s just hard to keep the good news inside when you discover something new and wonderful. It only becomes a problem to me when things turn negative – i.e. “you should NOT be eating that” instead of “well I heard that eating bla bla bla is great for you”. Other than that, it’s like you said – just nod along and let the person enjoy their new “thing”.

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Nick February 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Excellent piece George. I struggled a lot with friends who fit “The Hater” mentality when I started changing my life. There’s actually a legitimate term for it called crab mentality. You can read the wiki on it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_mentality

Nearly every successful person has dealt with others trying to deter them. You have to trust in yourself and understand why those people are being negative. It’s often out of jealousy and because they can’t do it themselves.

The hardest part for me was accepting that I needed to distance myself from some people. I wasn’t angry at them but realized that they were a negative influence holding me back. It was a tough choice but allowed me to find people who were truly supportive. Real friends want the best for the people they care about.

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Billy Taylor February 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I completely agree with that, Nick, and I love that term — perfect analogy. I must ask: do you happen to have any advice on how to tactfully shake off the haters? Because I’m struggling with a decent share of them right now.

I’ve noticed a correlation: the more control I take of my life, the more people — who were supposedly my friends — seem to peel off their skin and reveal themselves as “crab people.” (Actually, it seems like a pretty solid, linear relationship.) And I’m astonished — honestly, even a little disturbed — by how persistent they are at trying to pull me back down as I try to simply distance myself from them.

The thing is, it’s obvious that once these “friends” are identified as negative influences, they should be regarded as lepers and avoided; but once I start to do that, their deplorably clingy nature surfaces — like a bad breakup, except instead of my phone being blown up by a jealous ex-girlfriend, it’s by a jealous buddy who wants me to waste my time accompanying him to some dive-bar where, over some shitty booze, he can decry his own circumstances before giving me “advice” on mine (that or participate in some other equally counter-productive activity).

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Nick February 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Happy to hear you’re making strides in your self-improvement. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to these people as lepers haha but I think you sometimes need to distance yourself. It doesn’t make you better than them but just searching for different things in life.

I would do one of two things…

1) Suggest something you’d rather do than go to a dive bar. Invite them to try something else. If they accept and they start to tell you what you’re doing “wrong”, tell them straight up you disagree. Tell them you are trying to do better with your life and that you hope they can understand that.

Otherwise I would…

2) Distance myself from them, at least for now. Find new friends to hang out with and expand your social circle. You can simply say, “Sorry man, I’m not coming out tonight.” No one is forcing you to hang out with them. If they try to guilt trip you, ignore it and do your own thing.

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George P.H. February 11, 2013 at 6:51 pm

You’re 100% right about the crab mentality, this is something I’ve noticed throughout life as well. People will try to hold you down to their level if you decide to do something extraordinary.

I’ve been blessed with friends who’ve grown with me and encouraged me to develop myself throughout the years. But many people ‘shed’ their inner circle and grow into a new one every few years, and I don’t blame them for it.

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Billy Taylor February 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm

PS

Not to go on ad nauseam, but this topic is seriously the most angering thing in my life right now. Generally, these are the things crab people hit me with “the Hater” mentality for:

-being in shape
-being passionate about education
-being financially stable
-having fun and fulfilling pastimes
-feeling empowered enough to spend my personal time doing and pursuing what I WANT to, rather than what society and others say I’m “supposed to”

Generally, these are the crab person’s circumstances:

-out of shape
-void of passion
-broke and/or buried in debt
-hardcore video gamer, TV watcher, and Facebooker
-spending the bulk of their time doing what they’re “supposed to” — or worse: what they’re TOLD to

Yet even though they lack the three things, George mentioned, necessary to give advice — knowledge, experience, and results — they feel compelled to do so to the people who clearly need it least. Additionally, they regularly try to de-legitimize one’s undeniable successes with phrases like, “You’re so lucky.”

These relationships are toxic — non-conducive to positive goals and untenable for healthy people.

Hell, I could go on and on…but I suppose I’d rather keep my sanity.

Enjoy the Super Bowl, guys
-Billy

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George P.H. February 11, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I think Nick’s advice was, as always, spot-on. Personally, I just do me and let other people do them – most people will discourage you from trying to be extraordinary, so why share that part of yourself with them? Have fun together and let them stay in their bucket (we always said, “crabs in a bucket”:)).

What you’re doing is fantastic and screw anyone who doesn’t want you to have an amazing life! Especially when it comes to health and education – both things are so important and valuable. Makes me think of how people used to try and get me to drink with them all the time :D .

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Elgie R. February 4, 2013 at 2:43 am

Wow, this is timely. Today i had an eye-opening experience at the gym with my sister. I’ve lost over 50 pounds by eating right, told her last week…got no reaction. Today a stranger remarked to her that he lost 45 pounds recently, and she was effusively supportive in her congrats to him. “Busted”, I thought. You DO minimize my success. OK…I lied. It wasn’t my sister it was my MOTHER. Hard to say that…! Losing this weight has been opening lots of emotional doors…airing out a lot of stale hurts……making me examine the way I think about myself…….all for the good I think.

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George P.H. February 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm

My dad’s the exact same way. When I came home with no C’s for the first time in my life, he just said: “Why not all A’s?”

If it’s any consolation, I think parents can be critical because they have such high expectations for us. In their own way, they want what’s best – they just don’t realize how much their words can hurt us.

And by the way, congratulations on losing 50 pounds! Wow, that’s tremendous! I lost around 35 when I decided to end my “fat phase” and that felt amazing, so I can’t imagine how happy you must be :)

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