Do You Have Any Advice?
I’ve been thinking a lot about advice recently – both the asking for and giving of. To be fair, most of us are happy to give advice even if no one asked for it.
We all think we know what someone else should do. If they would just shut up long enough so that we can tell them.
There’s a thin line between empathy and ego when you start giving out advice that no one asked for.
Lately, I’m trying to be more present when someone talks about their problem or situation. Before, I would have jumped on all the solutions my ‘brilliant’ brain had come up with for them. ‘Solving problems is what I do!’ my ego consumed brain would shout.
Of course, you have good advice to offer, at times. An external perspective is valuable. But so is realising that you’re lacking all the context.
If someone asks for advice, fire away. If someone shares their problem or situation with me without asking for advice I’ll often probe with questions like…
‘What happens next?’
‘Have you had a chance to come up with a solution?’
‘What do you hope changes going forward, how will that happen?’
‘Have you asked (someone) what to make of this?’
If I hear the words…
‘What do you think?’
‘How would you handle XYZ’
‘I need help’
I’ll usually say something like…
‘This is my perspective, but it sounds like…’
‘From my experience…’
‘I don’t know the full picture, but I would…’
‘I wish I knew, XYZ would be a great person to ask’
Here’s the final caveat. If you’re invested in them implementing your advice, get ready for disappointment. It’s ego or arrogance to think you have all the (right) answers. It’s their life. Their problem(s).
Full disclosure. To save myself a lot of time and frustration (or bruised ego). I have implemented a three-strike rule. You asked for advice, I gave great advice, and then you did something completely different… After the third such occurrence, I tap out.
When asking for advice it’s quite simple.
1. Ask the right people
2. Tell them what you’ve tried or thought could solve this
3. Listen. But remember it’s coming from their frame or point of reference.
4. Tell them right away if you don’t agree with their advice or won’t put it in place. If you’re on the fence, tell them their input is valuable but you need to think about it some more.
5. Say thank you, for their advice and support.
6. If you’ve implemented their advice, let them know what the outcome was.