Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Problem with Giving Advice

There are three problems and risks that go with giving advice, especially that which is not solcited.

1.We may not have all the facts; in fact, we probably don’t have the whole story. For that reason, we don’t know what’s best for the other person because we don’t know her or his wishes, values and goals in life, unless you have asked.

2.The argument for not giving unsolicited advice is that it puts us in a superior position, which the receiver may resent, feel “talked down to." He or she may seem to agree, just to please us, but not follow through. If we make a habit of giving unsolicited advice, that person may soon avoid us because he or she feels uncomfortable.
The risk of giving any kind of advice is that it makes us responsible for the outcome. If he follows our advice and it falls flat, we are to blame because it was our idea.
But what if someone comes to us for advice? Beware of the same trap! The blame will be ours. “After all, it was your idea in the first place,” he may say. Here’s a suggestion: Ask questions.

What's happened? Tell me, "What is the problem?"
What kind of outcome are you looking for?
What can you afford? What bothers you most about this?
What have you tried? How did it turn out?
What are your alternatives?
How strongly do you feel about it?

Then listen thoughtfully, without interrupting.
Listen to feelings. Now is the time to sum it up, “What I’ve heard is that you…”
Would you like a suggestion?

Now is the time to ask if she would like some information that may help her make a wise decision. It may be a phone number, people to contact.
It it’s a situation that can’t be changed, just offer concern and try not to place blame.

3.Let’s let others make their own choices. What works best is to give people information that may be helpful, allowing them make their own choices. They are more motivated if they act on their own ideas. We can help motivate others by asking about what’s happened, what is the problem and what’s important to them, not by telling them what to do.

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