Hold the advice!


Have you ever been to a doctor and found them writing a prescription before you'd finished saying what was wrong?

Have you ever told a friend (or a parent or a spouse!) about a problem and been told what to do about it before you had even finished telling them what the real issue was?

Have you ever had to grit your teeth while someone advised you to do things you had already tried because they didn't bother to ask what you'd already done?

It is a common experience to have people prescribing solutions before they have understood the problem, isn't it?

This is because we often don't get a key distinction in communication.

Listening and giving advice.

I know, I know. We spoke about this just last week. But it is just so important, that it is worth repeating.

Listening helps others to tell their stories. It requires putting our own agenda (and even our own expertise) on hold and simply "becoming a vessel into which others can pour their worries, their passions, their joys, their questions, their hopes, and their fears".

The point of listening is to understand better, to connect with the other person, and to leave them feeling understood.

This is why it is said that listening and feeling loved are so similar that most people cannot tell the difference.

Giving advice is different.

Giving advise involves sharing our knowledge, our wisdom, or our opinions. When we are giving advice, it is the other person who becomes the vessel into which we pour forth our own ideas, opinions and suggestions.

Not that there is anything wrong with giving advice. In fact, people may genuinely want our advice and even approach us for it. (And doesn't it feel good when they do!)

We still need to listen first, though.

The advice as valuable as it may be, will "fall on deaf ears" until the other person knows that we "get it". That we have understood the problem that we are trying to solve.

It is only when we take the time to listen first and build a relationship that we have influence with the person we are trying to advise.

Parents, please take special heed!

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