Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Advice Temptations

One of the hardest temptations for me to resist is giving advice. When someone tells me a problem I believe it is my first instinct to tell them how to handle it. I have caught myself many times starting to formulate an answer as soon as I recognize the problem instead of listening to whatever they wish to tell me.

Important issues have a way of trapping us in a solution we don't want like sitting on a carousel. There we sit hanging on, spinning round and round and can't reach out for the brass ring for fear of falling off. We are stuck in the problem and can't move.

Some people just need to tell the problem out loud to someone because when they talk they have to make sense to us and in the process they tell a different story than they have been when thinking about it. That can be enough to change their perspective and come to a different action and result. Nothing for us to do but listen.

Some people don't want to take responsibility for their own actions and grab on to advice as a crutch so that if things don't turn out well they can blame the crutch. That can put us in the position of being the cause of a bad result even when it is the only action possible.

Some people truly want alternatives they haven't considered so they can self-evaluate and decide. Usually these are issues involving low emotional content and we can give our advice or cautions freely.

So I try not to give advice when highly emotional issues are involved which in truth, is simply how I would handle it because I really can't know the whole situation from whatever description they tell me. If something similar has happened to me then I will tell them my experience and result for me if appropriate. Otherwise I would ask questions to help them obtain a different perspective and leave them to own their decisions.

What do you do?

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10 conversations:

paisley said...

the one time i did seek out your advise peter,,, you were right on the money....thank you for being there....

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you for the compliment Paisley and you are welcome

Comedy + said...

Interesting that you would post this. This is an issue that I have dealt with my son. He is a grown man here raising two daughters and hasn't lived under my roof for many years. When things get really tough for him he comes running to me for advise. Years ago when I would give advice on whatever issue he had, and it didn't turn out the way he wanted he would blame me. I quit giving advice then.

He would still call and I would always just listen to him. Then he would resent the fact that I wouldn't give him advice. I just can't win. This was short term resentments, but it were painful none-the-less.

So, now I try to pose numerous options reminding him that he and he alone should decide.

For everyone else I try to keep my nose in my own business. Listening is a difficult thing for me, because I too am formulating what my response is going to be before the tale is told. This has been a weakness that I have fought many years. I am getting much better. Excellent post Peter.

Peter Haslam said...

Me to Sandee and thanks for the addition to the conversation

Dick said...

You are truly the sage of the blogs. It is plain common sense but you put into perceptive.

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you for the compliment Dick i like to give different perspectives

HollyGL said...

I try to talk about similar experiences I've had - as you mentioned - and what I did in the situation. Or, if pressed, I may suggest something in a question format - "Have you thought about...".

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you HollyGL for your addition to the conversation

Jennifer said...

I'm right with you Peter...

Having said that, I'm thinking any advice from you would be pretty fabulous!

I would even take unsolicited advice which is rather rare for me! LOL!

:-)

Jen

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you for the compliment Jennifer I appreciate that and the perspective your blog gives