Top tips for dealing with Top Tips

These successful guru types – they’re there for a reason. To annoy me. To annoy me with their lists of wisdom. They are so wise they understand that in order to be successful you have to give people lists. Because that is all people understand. Soundbites. I’d like a list on developing a killer social media strategy please. Sure, go click here. If that didn’t work for you, then try re-clicking it. It works better the second time round. Honest.

Are we really that simple? Are human beings really that pathetic? We must be, we seem to lap up this stuff. Most of us are lazy. We want someone else to do the hard work so we don’t have to. And we’ll pay you to do it too. And when you’ve figured out the meaning of life, just make sure it’s in bullet point form. You know who mastered that one? Moses. Ten Commandments handed down by God himself. Genius. From the get go, even God knew we were simplistic humans who need guidance with bullet points.

Whatever happened to our brains? Our brains that are capable of intelligent thought, reacting to stimuli instantaneously, create complete frameworks within which to work, process language, social signals and more besides. Or the wisdom of the ages passed down through complete vast texts that people are still deciphering to this day? My facetious comment about the Ten Commandments aside, scholars to this day are studying the single most popular book in existence, the Bible.

But these gurus, they want to promote their knowledge to their assembled followers.

“Hark, for I have seen the truth. Layeth before you are the rules for engagement for carrying out an interview successfully. Follow these foolproof guidelines, that I have slaved over for ten years, and have taken instruction from the Powers that Be – Wikipedia. Hallowed be my name, my kingdom in Chelsea.”

And their lists, oh how they piss me off. Fine, fight fire with fire I say.

  1. Take any list you read and apply a bucket load of shit salt. Yes it seems like it makes sense, but anyone worth their salt (see what I did there) will not belittle you by creating a list to follow.
  2. Any point on a list needs better context to help you understand what you need to do. ‘Maintain eye contact’ is useful, but what about cultural differences? What about comfort levels? What if someone has a physical condition with their eyes?
  3. The lists are generic and meant to apply to everyone. Therefore, they apply to no-one. Which is the single biggest problem with horoscopes. Read about Derren Brown and horoscopes for more on this. What it comes down to is the generic use of the language. ‘You can create rapport by mirroring body language’.
  4. To get true insight into behaviour, or any new way of working, you need to know the context in which things have been developed. Quite often the list is in isolation. Such a shame for could be such good information.
I’ve written before about Intelligent Behaviours. Having an Intelligent Behaviour mindset means that you can look at a top ten list and decide for yourself what makes sense, and how you should interpret it. If, you decide the top tips are actually useful, then seek out the person that wrote them for better insight, or talk to someone who you know understands these things well.
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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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