You won’t believe how simple, pleasant, and easy life can be.
I wrote my first listicle.
I’m not sure whether the act of writing it or the word itself is what left me feeling like I had told a dirty joke, or at least thrown shade on someone’s academic parade.
It was a nod to making a really complicated thing simple; something I’m not sure is possible. Although it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a few years as I’ve encouraged people to ‘simply’ ask advice about tricky life situations in my product.
Should complicated things be distilled? Is it dishonest? Is it like putting broccoli in a sugary cereal box? The Yogi Berra-like conscience on my shoulder reliably tells me ‘the thing about complicated things is that they’re complicated.’ But this flies in the face of buzz words and jaw-dropping headlines.
At our SXSW panel, Art Markman and I tried to do the same — we distilled several literatures related to social support, decision-making, and behavior change into a 6-step framework on how to give good advice: ARCADE.
Acknowledge the feeling
Reframe the situation
Create the goal
Assess the gap
Devise the plan
Empower the action
Just before we went live, I boomeranged:
it wasn’t simple enough — couldn’t we have 3 bullets instead? People will laugh at how complicated it is…
Ironically, part of our message was that unpleasant feelings motivate change. Would this do the trick: a cognitively unpleasant framework?
However we distill and simplify the giving of good advice, the receiving can feel bad. Giving good advice — reframing other people’s situations and providing them information (or a perspective) they didn’t previously have is far more unpleasant than telling someone what they *want* to hear.
As much as we love a good SoulCycle mantra, sometimes just dreaming and fantasizing isn’t enough. As Gabrielle Oettingen’s research shows us, optimism needs to be tempered by an acknowledgement of the hard, ugly, un-listicle-ized, non trivial work.
Can a listicle motivate hard work?
In the end, you may not use all of these steps every time you give advice to someone, but keeping these elements in mind will help you to be more effective at advising others. In addition, by using this framework, you will increase the chances that people will be able to use your advice to make positive changes in their lives.