With A Pinch of Salt: Taking And Giving Recommendations

I live in Greece, where others go on holiday. I was frequently asked by travellers and holiday makers whether I could recommend to them a good tavern, a panoramic route, the best beach or most interesting archaeological site, and other must-see’s and must do’s.

During my first years here, I was very willing to help them out and suggested – without thinking – my favourite places. Now I’m very reluctant to do so.

What happened to change my mind?

One summer, on two occasions, people to whom I had recommended something revisited. The first couple found me where they had met me before, pointed at me, talked to each other and then came over. The second couple actually made an effort to track me down, as I had changed my job. Both couples began with “How nice to see you” and seamlessly went on to complain, how they went by my recommendation and how disappointed they were because … *following long lists*.

I was shocked, especially the second time round, because I would never take it as a personal offense when a recommendation I got turned out to be anything but what I expected, or simply to not to be my taste. These people very obviously did.

Lesson learned. My standard reply now is: “I can tell you were I like to go, but I can’t recommend anything because I don’t know whether you would like it, too.” – I’ve never had a complaint again πŸ˜‰

Think for thyself

This is also how I see this blog and The Enermazing Project as a whole: Please take any recommendations and suggestions and tips and tools and… with a pinch of salt. What works fine for me may not be the best thing for you – it’s up to you to test, modify, refine, decide to integrate or discard whatever anybody offers you.

As far as we as individuals are concerned there is not much which could be considered an absolute fact. Just think of how science constantly improves on previous research and theories… Scientific reseach always starts with a question, but there are many ways to phrase it, and many questions hiding behind that phrase. Who pays for the research, for instance? Yesterday chocolate was bad for us, today it’s beneficial to our health, and tomorrow – who knows.

Another point to consider when offered advice, help, a new product, a solution for all and everything: Those who promote it, what is their intention, what do they get out of it? What will they gain, what do they fear to lose? Sometimes what you are asked to give is stated with obvious honesty – see the price tag – but the favourite garment of manipulation is the Invisibility Cloak

The subjective value of recommendations and advice

No matter how much objective, theoretical or empirical proof there is, subjectively it can only ever be opinion until we verify it through our own experience.

Testing everything ourselves though would be somewhere between “impossible” and “beyond stupid”. What we can do however is to become aware of the opinions we have adopted, and to consiously choose temporary storage – until we know better 😎

My bottom line: If you aren’t already, I strongly recommend πŸ˜‰ becoming an “open-minded sceptic”…

Maria

How do you feel about giving and receiving recommendations and advice?

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