I ran into a rather cute term a while back: An askhole. What’s an askhole? Well, essentially, it’s what you call a person who asks for your opinion or advice on issues — and then turns around and does the opposite of what you advised.
This is frankly a pretty handy term for me because I’ve run into this a lot. In my own life, sure, but also in the lives of those around me. I’ve talked to multiple people that had friendships end over this behavior. They were sick of their friend constantly asking them for advice, listening, agreeing, and then turning around and doing something completely different.
In my own life, I haven’t ended friendships over it. Mostly I just find it silly or amusing when it happens. I will say, however, if I’m perfectly honest that I’m less likely to be extremely close to someone who does this a lot. And by that, I mean that I’ll find myself less eager to be a confidant or give advice to that same person in the future if they seek me out for that purpose. Basically, I’ll find myself investing a little less time and effort into their problems — because they’re not investing a lot of stock in whatever advice I might have.
I never really thought about it much consciously, however, until I encountered this term. Askhole.
Shopping For a Certain Opinion
Anyway, that’s what an askhole is. And knowing that this phenomenon exists, it does beg the question: What motivates someone who turns to others for counsel and then doesn’t follow the advice?
A few possibilities immediately spring to mind. I do think that there are certain individuals who will ask others what they should do not as a way of seeking direction but instead looking for validation that what they are planning to do anyway is a good idea. Their mind is already made up; they just want to feel good about what they’re planning to do.
And in these instances, many times they will hop from person to person until they find someone who gives them the advice that matches their decision. It’s possible that when an askhole spurns your advice that you were just an earlier stop in that trip, where they were shopping for a certain opinion.
I’ve seen this happen a lot when folks crowdsource opinions online in a forum. They’ll have the course of action picked out already but act as though they don’t. And many times you can tell that they’ve only posted shopping for a certain opinion (instead of trying to get the best advice), as they’ll go with some obscure thing nearly everyone else is telling them is a bad idea (and with good reason).
Making Sure to Consult Multiple Others
There are also situations where perhaps the person seeking your advice isn’t shopping for a certain opinion but simply talks to multiple confidants. And perhaps in those consults, you are simply outnumbered. Or someone else makes a better case to them, one you never heard.
A person who is trying to be prudent can in those situations come off as an askhole when that’s not at all what they intended.
What Other Motivations Can You Think Of?
That said, I’m sure there are plenty of other motivations that could prompt askhole behavior. Readers, I am all ears. Feel free to chime in and let me know what some of those could be. As always, if there are enough insights, I will write a followup article on the subject.
How to Come Off Like Less of an Askhole
So let’s say you’re in one of these scenarios. Or something like that. Where you’ve decided to ignore a close friend’s advice after consulting them (for whatever reason).
And when you do, you’ll risk looking like an askhole.
Let’s say you don’t want to do this. Is there anything you can do?
Yes, in my experience. It’s fairly simple.
There is of course, taking your friend’s advice. But if that’s not possible/advisable, one of the best ways is to check back in with the friend (or friends) who gave you the advice you’re not taking. Thank them for doing it. Let them know you heard and listened and that you value their time, effort, and contribution And then let them know that you’re doing something else. If at all possible, explain your reasoning. This way they aren’t blindsided by it later, which can help with the emotional impact.
And even more importantly, it’s important to never act like you take their advice for granted, even if you don’t always follow it.
Because on the other side of the coin, it’s unreasonable to expect all advice to be followed, even if it’s explicitly sought out.
What’s important here is making sure you acknowledge the effort, which makes it more likely you don’t come off ungrateful. Like you’re comfortable wasting people’s time.
You know, like an askhole.