1 min read

Suggestions vs. advice

I'm noticing a subtle distinction between suggestions and advice. Suggestions are something that you give to do with as they will. They are open-ended. Advice is something that you give with the expectation it will be followed or not. It is closed off. There is a texture of rigidness about "advice" in the way I parse it.

There's a collaboration vs. take-it-or-leave-it feeling there. With a suggestion, you can build on it. It is not expected that you take it as given. It can be useful even if you do not act on it as such — it can inspire you to find another course of action. Advice feels narrower: Here is what you should do.

Advice feels like: Tell me what to do. Like the unit voice-line in Civilization IV: "Awaiting your orders!" It feels like a thing one asks when lost. Advice feels like directions: Tell me how to move myself to the place.

On the other hand, you can take directions as a suggestion, too, and in fact that's the only way to take them. Directions are never fully specified. They can only ever suggest what to do next. If it goes wrong somehow — you must take it as a suggestion. The alternative is plunging on with something that you know isn't working. This is, of course, a bad idea.

This distinction leads to a thought: Why do we follow advice?

Something for another day.