Honey, You Can’t Tell Black Folks ANYTHING!

How does one distinguish friendly advice from criticism? How do you know if someone is genuinely trying to help or being critical of you? Another personality that may steer you away from advice is someone who thinks he holds all the answers to life’s problems. I’m almost sure you know someone who fits this description – they know everything about everything! Well, there are three key determinants in knowing the difference. 

The first is the character of the messenger. Of course, no one will accept advice from someone unfamiliar to them - just any "Joe Blow" on the street. But someone who has your best interest at heart – a sister, best friend or trustworthy co-worker – now that's a different story. Why would they criticize or attack you? If anything, they are trying to protect and shield you from the consequences of a mistake that they have already made. You know, give foresight into your future. Not being judgmental or critical. Just genuinely trying to help you out. 

The second determinant is the motive behind the advice. We’re not stupid or naive. Well, not most of us anyway. We can detect if someone is up to no good. If it has been predetermined that “the advisor” is trying to steal your charming spouse, dream job or just down right out to get you, you know to do the exact opposite of what they advise. But once again, if you know their intent is not malicious and meant to destroy you or your reputation, listen. Whether the source is dear ole Big Mama or that very opinionated friend who can't seem to shut up at times, take heed to their knowledge and wisdom. Once again, they are only looking out for your best interest.

The last factor is simple - the experiences of the adviser. How can someone tell you how to deal with a situation that they have not conquered themselves? Doesn't make sense huh? But, if they have wrestled the same problem and rose from the ordeal victoriously, I deem them a credible source. I can’t say it enough – LISTEN!

For some, any piece of advice comes across as criticism. But that’s a tell-tell sign which reveals internal issues within that individual. This holds true within the African-American community. We have a difficult time accepting advice from others.  No one can tell us anything! We are the last demographic to seek counseling even when we are fully aware that a problem exist.  We still won’t seek help! And if someone even slightly suggests help, we’ll curse them out in Ebonics, Spanish, Creole French and five African dialects simultaneously! For the life of me, I cannot understand it. Of course, the decision to listen and accept advice or perceive it as criticism is totally up to you. But please note, you have been ADVISED of the difference between the two. 

Mikki Zimmerman is a writer, Louisiana native and proud sports-crazed member of the "Who Dat Nation" - supporting the New Orleans Saints since the age of 8.  She is an animal lover, preferable cats and dogs, who is a dreamer with a HUGE imagination.  Currently she is a graduate student working towards an MBA with a concentration in Marketing.  Her first book - Can I Get a Witness? 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) is available online @ Xlibris.com, Amazon.com or by calling 888-795-4174. 

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