The subjective value of giving advice

I have a friend who went to a coffee shop and asked if their dark roast was really bitter and if he should try it. The barista hummed and hawed because she didn’t want to mislead him.

The reason the barista didn’t want to advise my friend, is because she didn’t want to be wrong and she didn’t know what the guy liked. She didn’t want to be held accountable in case the guy didn’t like it. She wanted to play it safe.

I get that. It’s scary to be wrong. We fear being judged and outcasted. However, you never know who will take your advice and how. You just never know.

I wrote an article about how we’re all doomed and we should persevere. I wrote it because I was having a bad day at work. But a friend read it, and took it as a call to action to join an Anti-Trump campaign. That wasn’t what I meant, but I am really happy that he read it and that he is now taking action. In the same way that a product can be used for different things, advice can be taken any way the audience wants.

The whole concept of subjective value is that the value is in the eye of the beholder. Not the maker, not the seller, the buyer. Sometimes if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. One thing can be useful to different people. There are basically infinite uses for each object in the world depending on how creative you are. It would be impossible to predict every single use.

That’s why it makes sense to give advice freely. You won’t, can’t, know how your advice will be used. But someone will find it helpful.