Skip to main content

Questions about Advice


Do you like to give advice?

I don't know how many times people have asked me for advice and in return I just let them hear what I had to say about what I thought they wanted to know. That has two big problems: 

  1. Maybe I haven't really understood their issue, and
  2. Maybe they aren't really ready for advice until they've thought it through

By asking questions, I can learn more about their situation to find out if I even have advice worth sharing on that situation. Sometimes, they have all they need to solve the problem by themselves.

Also, by asking questions and letting them think through the situation in greater detail, they can tell that I'm not just going to pull out a stock answer -- and the answer will come from our dialogue together, not some ready-supply of world wisdom. I'm smart, but I can't solve everyone's problem.

How about this -- do you like to get advice?

Asking for advice (without paying for it) can be an imposition. It can also be rude. It can also be risky because once you ask for advice whoever provides that advice will expect you to follow it.

Before I ask for advice now, I ask questions to explore whether my inquiries are both welcome and useful for both of us. I'm more interested in collaborating solutions than consuming them.

Or, how about this -- does anyone ever offer you advice you didn't ask for? 

That's always fun isn't it -- or not! When that happens I've learned to ask questions to find out why they think I need or want that advice. Maybe I do and I just don't realize it yet. Or, maybe I don't and any advice will get in the way of a plan already in place. Once again, I'd rather collaborate than consume.

When in doubt, when put out, when you feel about to shout -- ask questions.

Ask questions before giving advice and ask questions before taking it.

The right questions can save you hours of aggravation and misunderstanding.

-- doug smith

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Connection

  Where does communication start? Before any meaningful message can be shared, before any agreement can be reached, communication starts with connection. Finding a way to share something in common with someone else. Turning toward someone and taking the chance of seeing, hearing, feeling who they are in this moment of time. Communication starts with connection. Connect, and the possibilities are limitless. -- doug smith

Play Fair

We all know the temptation to cut corners, skirt rules, and dance along the line of cheating. But, whatever it takes, however hard it is, it is best to play fair.  When the truth discovers you, let it be a truth worth sharing. Play fair. It does take extra work. It's easy to find people who do not play fair and who seem to be getting ahead. That's not for you. It's much better to feel the complete satisfaction of leading with integrity. If you game the system you ultimately game yourself. Play fair. -- doug smith  

Collecting Problems?

Does it feel like you're collecting problems? One thing leads to another and before you can resolve one issue another pops up?  It's like being in the middle of a movie when you just keep falling deeper into one hole or trap after another. There is usually more than one solution to any problem. If it feels like you're just collecting problems, try collecting solutions instead. You can't have too many solutions, so be generous with your generating. -- doug smith  

Indisputable?

  Everything is open to interpretation. To dispute this is an interpretation. It is, therefore, indisputable. Or is it? Stay curious. Let's see what happens. -- doug smith

Take a Positive Step

Sometimes it's too much to muster up a big effort. Maybe that's when a little effort gets us going. Even the smallest positive effort has a positive impact. Let's start with that. -- doug smith  

Understanding Comes First

A solution posed too soon might just be another version of the problem. It's tempting to rush thru analysis. Tempting, but costly. Few problems are solved until they are truly understood. -- doug smith  

Have You Tested Your Values?

We tend to believe that our values are absolute and true, but to truly know that we need the courage to test them. To withstand resistance and temptation. To try after trying gets hard. Have you tested your values? Have your values been tested? -- doug smith  

Respect

How do you show someone respect? Without it you will find it hard to hold onto any respect of your own. Without it you may even find it hard to get things done. Those who outrank you are much more help to you when you show them respect. Those who report to you are much more motivated when you show them respect. And, those at your level are far more likely to be cooperative and collaborative when you show them respect. Show respect by: listening, without judging speaking truthfully avoiding gossip allowing for disagreement without anger acknowledging rank and authority There are dozens of ways to show respect. What would you add to the list? -- doug smith

Prevention: Why Wait?

There is usually more glory (and satisfaction) in solving a problem than there is in doing the hard work ahead of time to prevent the problem in the first place. It means paying attention to risk, rather than dismissing it with some wildly optimistic notion that things will stay steady and true and always work out for you. That would be great, but have you considered the potential problems. Potential problems have a way of turning into actual problems. It takes less energy to prevent a problem than to solve it. Why wait? Fun or not, prevention works. -- doug smith

Hard Truths Anyway

There have been times when I was teaching a program called "Communicating With Tact and Diplomacy" when one or more of the participants would tell me "this is my last chance -- HR sent me here to fix me or I'm gone..." How's that for a challenge? Get fixed or get gone. I very often tell people that I can't fix anyone because people are not broken in places I know how to fix. But, that's not a great thing to say to someone who has their working life on the line. It might sound diplomatic, but it is not helpful, and maybe not entirely true. Entirely true? What even does that mean? Isn't something true or NOT? The point is, we do not need to fix anyone in order to help them fix the way they perform. In my classes I do sometimes help people become more diplomatic -- but that is a start, not an end destination. There is something better than diplomacy and that is compassionate truth. It's harder, it takes more time, it's often easily misunders