Let me give you some advice about advice.
Unless you are Oprah don’t dish it out.
Hard to understand I know …. Even though your girlfriend, colleague or staff member has specifically asked you a question, they don’t actually need your advice. Go figure!
So what are exceptions to this rule;
If it’s factual information go ahead and share.
Can I claim my sunglasses on my tax – yes, no, depends, speak to your accountant.
What platform do you use for your blog – Wix – Oh!
If there are clear options to discuss.
What’s the quickest way to get to the south Melbourne Markets – bus or tram?
Knock yourself out discussing the relative merits of both, then catch an Uber.
If it’s an opinion tread carefully.
What’s the best way to promote my business using social media?
Do you think I should put my money in shares or in super?
I am always so stressed, what should I do?
Stop right there! Unless you are a recognised expert in the topic don’t start any reply with, “What you should do is…”.
“What you should do is buy an investment property and negatively gear. No really you should. My neighbour has 12 investment properties and he is absolutley raking it in. He goes overseas every year and drives a Porche”
By all means offer you opinion about what works for you but hold your opinion out lightly to be taken – don’t insist that they act on it.
Absolutely never, ever, ever…. don’t even think about it – shut your cakehole sista – give advice… under any of the following circumstances;
1) If the wildly wonderful woman in in question has an IQ over 100 with moderate to excellent mental health
2) If the dilemma involves matters of the heart. As hard as it is to believe – she loves the arsehole even though no one including his Mother can name any of his redeeming features
3) When the plea is “what do you think I should say ….”
4) Ditto “What should I dooooooo?”
What’s so wrong about giving advice? Well, you see here’s the rub.
If we have a problem and we try someone else’s solution and it fails – we blame the advice giver.
“I tried standing up to my boss and he just got mad at me – whose stupid idea was that?”
“I tried to leave work before 5 but I just feel rushed all day …” that works for you but it clearly doesn’t work for me.
Yet if we try our own options and we fail …. We may swear a lot.. but we learn and grow.
“I tried standing up to my boss and he just got mad, I might not try it that way again”
When I was employed as a trainer of coaches, one of the activities required to get accreditation was for the student to coach me, the assessor on a simple topic. For six years and lots of clients I chose the following challenge to be coached on:
I need to sort out my home office, it is just so untidy I spend most of my time looking for things I know I have but can’t find.
Firstly, I had to convince LOTS of people that this was a REAL issue for me. Yes I dress well, I have post-graduate qualifications and can talk with complete confidence about endless numbers of subjects – but I am the most untidy person on earth. Apparently I can make a mess just breathing.
Back to the coaching and advice … I can not tell you the number of times I was coached/persuaded/bullied into choosing an option that the coach preferred. I was encouraged to do everything from tidy up as I go, colour code my files and store everything digitally. DOH! Like I hadn’t thought of these and indeed tried them. These are all good bits of advice but none of them work for me – I am sure colour coding your files works for you but it just seems like a lot of work to me.
What works for me is to have a big annual cull of stuff I have collected, then I invite a specific friend over to help me set up missing systems – with the promise of champagne. Often I would tell the trainee this exact fact and they would ignore it – replacing it with what ever was their preference.
She asked me what I think – I can’t just say nothing!
Lets go back to the wildly, wonderful woman with an at least average IQ for a moment. Lets say she’s in a bit of a pickle and has said “I am not sure what I should do next. What do you think I should do?”
As a friend or colleague – What are our choices?
We can choose to wade in with “WELL! I am glad you asked! What I think you should do is….and then you should…..because when that happened to me I did this, this and this and it worked.”
Or choice number 2; we can recognise that she is an intelligent woman, she’s not stupid and she can figure out her own solutions when given the space and support required.
Now instead of advice we offer empathy and kindness, a listening ear and a few well thought out questions to guide our friend to clarity.
“You sound kinda stuck and that’s tough. What options do you have?”
Then we SHUT UP AND LISTEN.
What’s worked before?
What’s something you could try?
Hello there! I am Jenny Cole – Coach, Consultant and Cheerleader. I work with women to create careers, workplaces and lives that allow them to flourish.
I love nothing better than watching smart, capable but overwhelmed women step confidently into their best self and truly succeed.
I am endlessly curious with two successful businesses behind me. My blog shares what I see, what I know and random musings.