|Noun: || |
- Guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.
- Information; news.
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I had three recent experiences that sensitized me again to how cautious we need to be about advice.
- On a team call whose purpose was to help resolve one member's dilemma, advice is given ("you really shouldn't....") and the response is defensive. ("yes but....)
You might think the only issue here is that the response was defensive since the call was designed to help the person with the dilemma. But what is helpful? I find that asking questions that help clarify the issues is far more effective in the long run than offering a solution. Even if it is a solution that comes from years of your experience. Even if it is a solution that is wise. It is not always going to be easy for me to hear it, let alone implement it. Powerful questions and examples of your own experience (minus the directive) can go a long way.
- In a team coaching context teammates are acknowledging each other for commitments honored. (You are... and you should keep on..")
The feeling in the room was positive and appreciative. And as requested, the acknowledgements were specific. But what struck me is the way that second-person speech, "you are delegating more often now..." sounds like the speaker is standing in judgment from a few rungs up the ladder of accomplishment. Contrast that with speaking in the first person about the impact on me when you honored your commitment. ("I was able to accomplish so much more when I knew you were going to be accountable for your tasks."
- A coach (yes-me!) gets overly passionate about a topic she knows a lot about and tells her client what he should do...
If you have worked with a coach, you might be sensitized to the fact that a coach doesn't usually tell her client what to do. This holds true for managers and leaders who want to coach with their employees, too. Usually I ask permission. I might tell a client I have some experience with a topic, and to let me know if and when s/he wants to me to share what I know. Anything else is a not only a self-management issue for the coach it is a power grab that takes attention away from the person trying to make sense of an issue for themselves. It builds dependency and undermines what we want- a professional who is building the problem solving muscle for themselves.
It [excellent advice] is a good deal like giving a child a dictionary to learn a language with —Henry James