My brother tells a funny story about someone coming to him for help. He politely listened to the person explain their situation, which went on forever, then gave his take. At which point the person turned on him like a lunatic and screeched, “I asked for your opinion, not your advice!”
In the aftermath of that anecdote I broke the concepts down to discern the difference between the two, and hopefully protect myself from a similar experience. Here’s the entire difference between opinion and advice:
- Opinion = “This is what I think.”
- Advice = “This is what I think you should do.”
That’s it. That’s the whole difference between telling someone your opinion and having the effrontery to give unsolicited advice.
I mention this because a peer had a similar run-in with someone in a professional context. While there’s no way to protect yourself from crazies, you can cut down on the likelihood that someone will take offense by framing everything from your own point of view:
- If I was in your shoes…
- If that happened to me…
- I know how I’d feel if…
- That happened to me once, and…
- In my own experience…
That sort of thing. Whatever observations you want to make in reply, make them about yourself. There’s literally no difference in what you’re saying, but for some people it seems to make a big difference.
And in a business context, that could make a difference to you.
— Mark Barrett
Stéphane Bura says
Good advi- Hey!
For me the difference is even more simplistic. Advice is asked for, opinions are proffered.
So what is the difference between instruction and advice…
That’s a good question, Athena.
I think the easiest answer — in terms of avoiding semantic entanglements — is to think of advice as containing some element of judgment, while instruction would be more factual. Still there’s certainly a problem-solving component to both, and even a teaching component assuming your advice has merit.
There’s also the difference between mental pursuits and physical tasks, and we might liken advice more to the former, and teaching more to the latter, but it’s not absolute. One can be taught to think more clearly, and one can also be advised to avoid, say, eating a big meal before taking a ride on a roller coaster.
Or maybe the difference is between what to do (advice) versus how to do something (instruction).
Fred 3rd says
My advice is life experience of mistakes. Opinions are what I think is the true but you really don’t know.