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What to Do When People Offer You Their *Unqualified* OPINION…

7 October 2013 2 Comments

couple arguing man being nagged

“I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.”
~ Edward Gibbon

If you’re like me, you get A LOT of people offering you their “help” which, in actuality, is simply a cheap euphemism for their own low-rate, unqualified and (pardon mon francais) half-booty personal OPINION.

I can’t provide you with the deep psychology behind it, but for some reason, whenever you’re doing something:

fashion designer posted up thinking relaxed confident>> cool,

>> progressive,

>> conscious or

>> productive

…with your life (and looking to do it on a large scale, especially), one of the most annoying things you have to deal with are the friends, family members and other random associates who feel entitled to tell you how it should be done, even though they have NO experience, NO qualifications and often NOTHING to offer but hypothetical theory loosely related to the matter.

For example, with my book How to Conquer Yourself, I’ve had people (who’ve never written or edited anything…people who barely even READ, mind you) suggest I make all kinds of changes to the book’s title, structure and overall tone.

When changing my diet in attempts to eat healthier, I’ve had people (with tons of personal health problems and no control over their own diet, of course) tell me why everything I was doing wouldn’t work.

Even when I decided to start this very website you’re reading now, I’ve had people tell me it was a terrible idea and that I’d be better off forgetting the whole thing.

Don’t get it twisted: I’m no proponent of being close-minded. I’m just assuming that you know the difference between a helpful tip, considerate insight or logical critique and an irrational, unthoughtful response from some hopeless degenerate looking to wax philosophical. The first gives you something to think about; the second is just annoying and stupid.

In fact, there’s this girl I’ve been dating for awhile now, and – as she’s a professional chef – she typically has to go through the same thing, so here’s what I told her to do…

How to Turn Fake Help Into REAL Assistance

First, remember that there’s a BIG difference between offering someone your “help” and offering someone *your opinion*. Namely, opinions are theoretical postulations on how something should or might work, while help is physical labor.

Help is physical labor. Think about it: business owners looking to expand talk about “hiring help,” so walk down any strip mall and you’ll see store fronts with signs that read “Help Wanted.” (Trying going in there to give the boss your opinion on how he should run things and watch what happens.)

In essence, when somebody’s truly “helping” you, you could take a picture of that person in the moment and it would say everything it needed to say, like so:

scientists in laboratory twins working with chemicals

In other words, when someone’s truly “helping” you, there’s no need for words because, again, help is physical labor. THEREFORE, whenever one of these productive-wannabees offers you their opinion masquerading as “help,” ask them to actually HELP you instead…

Say, “Great! That’s a terrific idea…so when can you help me set it up!? I’ve been looking for someone, and this is perfect timing. When are you free to ___???”

For instance, when someone (who can’t write anything past a few semi-literate text messages) tells you to change the name of your upcoming book or screenplay, ask them “To what??? When you can you sit down and have a brainstorming session with me to completely re-name the whole concept and theme?”

(Last time I responded like this to someone telling me to change the name of my book, all I got was a “Well…that’s for you to figure out.” and a change of subject. Love it.)

When someone tells you “You should look for and target corporate clients rather than personal ones.” (something you already know and probably just have difficulty doing, or maybe not enough resources to execute logistically) say, “Great! I was just thinking that…so who do you know inside a big mega-corporation with enough sway to get me inside and make me rich!?”

couple laying around on laptop and devices working Someone once told me to get a fancy, professional editor and graphic designer for my book and work online. I told her I couldn’t afford an editor and graphic-designer at the moment, so although she’s right, I’d have to wait until I make enough sales to justify the expense.

She then suggested that I should, instead, split my book into chapters and give them out to several of my personal friends individually for them to each edit PRO-BONO when they get the time.

I simply said to her, “Okay cool! So when can send you chapters 2 & 3? I’m having reaaaal trouble with them.” Interrupting quickly, she said, “Oh no! I didn’t mean me. I don’t think I’d be the best person for that. Besides, I doubt I’d even have the time with everything I’m trying to do.”

Make sense? When someone offers you help, simply convert the dialogue and ask for *real* help instead (which the dictionary technically defines as “financial or material aid.”) Whatever you do, DO NOT argue with the person – don’t take time out of your day to explain the elementary processes of photography, book-printing or whatever. That’s a waste of precious willpower and mental-energy you can’t afford; that you need for your own goals and the problems in life keeping you from them.

Just (jokingly) mis-interpret their unqualified suggestions as a personal proposal from them for actual help proper, respond with enthusiasm, and watch them back down…sometimes, even if you’re dealing with a conscientious person, this still works out in your favor.

bryan ogilvie how to conquer yourself instagram harlem manhattan nyc A few weeks back, a friend suggested I use Instagram to promote my book. Back then though, I had no idea how instagram worked – I had no idea about the functionality, what I was supposed to do, how people would find me to order, etc. etc.

So guess what? Naturally, I asked HIM to set it up for me instead. After he went on for about 10 minutes ranting over all the success Instagram was bringing him (hint: he was actually doing it himself), I said, “Alright fine. Once we get off this train and we’re back on the grid, set it up for me. Establish the whole thing on my phone and show me how it works.”

How’d it turn out? Like magic…and you can see for yourself right here.

In Conclusion…

You have a lot to do, so remember that in the kitchen there’s only one Chef (ask Raekwon from the Wu). There can only be one writer, one pilot and one head cook…everybody else is a “sous-chef” which, etymologically, originates from a French word meaning SUBORDINATE; or, in the case of a plane, everybody else is a flight attendant, meaning they ATTEND to auxiliary concerns, not FLY the aircraft itself.

there’s only one sea captain in ultimate command of the vessel, and when it comes to you and your dreams, THAT CAPTAIN IS YOU. Don’t let anyone throw you off with their two-bit, half-rate synopsis of how you should be doing your thing.

If you’re in trouble and NEED advice, go to someone who’s already done what you’re trying to do. I know you know the difference I’m talking about.

Be free of unwanted fear

Otherwise, when people offer you “help” – as in merely their unqualified opinion – say “GREAT! I’ve been looking for help…can you ____ (insert their exact claim).” Works like magic every time.

The trick is to say it with real conviction and enthusiasm – like you’re genuinely happy to finally find the assistance you need. Eventually they’ll get the point and start to think twice before they offer their opinion again.

And remember, your mental-energy and willpower are precious resources. You need to conserve them for your own challenges and goals, not squander them on arguments with people who can’t even relate to the level of focus your ambitions involve.

Discover more great insights, techniques, strategies and wisdom for self-mastery and artistic success in my new book, How to Conquer Yourself: Discipline & Willpower for the Conscious, Creative Thinker, available on on Amazon here. (For autographed and personally-dedicated copies, delivered much faster, click here)



  • Jean Bons said:

    The last paragraph was the best! Love your tip.

  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Thanks! That was my favorite part too (I like the idea of culminating up to the deep principle or fundamental truth that guides the technique). Hey check this out…just realized there’s a terrific “Aesop Fable” that makes the same point, but more in a short, funny analogy. Enjoy here: http://bit.ly/oPCPhj

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