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New Research Suggests You Suck At Giving Advice (Especially If You Think You’re Good At It)

A recent study in a prestigious journal that’s definitely real and not made up discovered a new metric that defines how competent you are at giving advice. It’s called your CATB score.

Your CATB score is the degree to which you’re Chomping At The Bit to say something. The higher your CATB score, the worse you are at listening and the better you are at being insufferable.

The following report will cover the 4 types of high CATB people along with the 3-Step Formula you can follow to reduce your score.

The 4 Types of High CATB People

Type 1: The Book Pusher

The Book Pusher insists you must read THIS BOOK because it will change EVERYTHING. He has few ideas of his own and gives verbose preambles before getting to his point of why you should read THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY!!

The Book Pusher is also a podcast, course, and article pusher. His trademark is defaulting to the ideas of others instead of his own.

Type 2: The “This is What You Should Do” Person

This person doesn’t listen, but tells you what you should do anyway because she heard someone talking about it on a podcast, so she’s basically an expert.

[See: Why we need experts]

Type 3: The Personal Experience Over-Sharer

The Personal Experience Over-Sharer presents as a good listener, but as soon as they see an opening – BOOM! They accost you with a monologue about their own personal experience.

They tell extremely long-winded stories about how they endured a very similar situation to yours, but theirs was worse. 20 minutes later, you’re bored out of your mind, trying as hard as possible to be polite, but it’s hard to maintain your poker face. Luckily, it doesn’t matter because this person is so lost in their own story they’re not even paying attention to you anymore.

Type 4: Just Plain Wrong

God help you if you’re with this guy. This is what the woo-woo folks call “a test from the universe.” He’s been put on this Earth to test your patience and stop you from being so darn impressionable.

This guy shows up as a well-meaning friend, teacher, or (most dangerous) parent.

He’s the guy who tells you to settle in your marriage or buy Instagram followers. It’s up to you to recognize his advice as JUST. PLAIN. WRONG.

You know you’ve encountered this person if you find yourself blaming them for a decision you made.

“I should have never listened to Kyle about grad school!” No, you shouldn’t have. Kyle’s an idiot.

How to Lower Your CATB Score

If you find yourself in a conversation where you’re no longer listening to the other person, but drafting a response to them in your mind – your CATB score is increasing.

This is bad.

It means you’re probably missing important pieces of context that you need to help this person (if you do in fact care about that. If you don’t, then disregard the rest of this article).

Step One: Get Comfortable With Not Talking

The altMBA has a wonderful exercise for this that goes like this:

Every time you want to say something, don’t.

When you resist the temptation to fill the silence, you lower your CATB score and decrease your chances of being insufferable. You’re used to getting credit for filling the silence. But let’s flip the script and say you will be docked points for that.

Picture this: Every time you’re chomping at the bit to say your piece, your participation grade is going DOWN.

Instead, just sit there and learn to get comfortable with not talking. This gives you the space to do step two.

Step Two: Do Not Say What You Want to Say

If you’re preoccupied with what your response should be (instead of listening), you’re still trying to get credit for participation.

To reverse this, you have to stop obsessing over how you’re going to contribute and listen to the person speaking. You’re listening for their actual question – the one beneath the words.

Some people aren’t asking for advice. They want to be heard or validated; they’re not interested in the solution (or trust they’ll work it out themselves). If you want to be helpful, the best thing you can do is figure out what that person is actually asking for – which you can only uncover if you’re listening.

If that person isn’t receptive to the solution yet, it doesn’t matter if you hand it to them on a silver platter. They won’t take it.

You will know when they’re ready for answers because they will say something explicit like, “What do you think I should do?”

If they haven’t directly asked you for advice, you can assume what they need is for you to listen so they can work it out themselves.

Step 3: Ask Questions

If you want to be helpful, ask questions before you give advice. The best way to be useful is to lead the person to their own conclusion. I am notoriously bad at this, but unlike height, this trait is malleable and can be changed if you care enough to change it.

Someone who is genuinely great at giving advice is invisible.

Low CATBers let the other person shine while the rest of us are clamoring for the spotlight.

Sharing your personal experience is one of the more valuable things you can share (heck that’s all we do in the Arena), but there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Accosting someone with a monologue is the wrong way.

Good rule of thumb: If you’re talking more than you’re listening then you’re doing this wrong.

The goal of any advice-giving opportunity is to help the other person get to the bottom of their problem. Often the most generous thing you can do is just…listen.




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