Responsible Advice and Other GPS Utilities

Navigating the world can be a tough act. Sometimes we seek advice as the WD40 for life. How to give good advice and stopping the addiction of hearing yourself speak.  — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — Wazup wiotches??!!! Your blog is amazing. I like giving advice too. When I do it for friends, it seems like I always get in trouble later when things go wrong and they yell at me. Wazup with that?! Scapegoat

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Dear Scapegoat,

I love you, too, ya lil blamed Capra. And thanks.

“Advice” can be a sharp or blunt tool, depending on who’s doing the wielding. My advice to you: operate yours wisely. Give advice only when asked. Be judicious in over-sharing your personal take as the Right Answer for everyone/-thing. When giving or taking advice, one should always consider the source; non-biased advice borders on being an oxymoron. Given the reaction you report, be extra careful not to advise one friend against another or similar polar-resulting recommendations. In other words, flex and warm-up first, successful advice giving is all in the intention.

A longtime friend of mine read our blog and commented that advice was hearing what you already knew but needed permission to do. That’s true for some folks, others do need help seeking direction or options. The reasons for needing advice are as complex as sometimes giving good words is. Keep that in mind the next time your friends actually ask your for your two cents. Quietly shrug and ask them, “I don’t know. What do you think?” See how that works for ya.

Finally, we write our advice blog as an adjunct to our coaching and e-learning program, and as a way to introduce our point of view. We also genuinely enjoy helping as well as entertaining, and know the difference. Ask yourself why you give advice so freely, Scapegoat?

Sherpa yourself, baby,

BadWitch

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Dear Scapegoat,

Thanks for the kudos!

Well, you can lead a horse to water…Giving advice is a tricky business. It’s easy to spout off your opinion, but not as easy to detach from the outcome. It’s also easy to tell others how they should roll, but if it’s steeped in critical judgment, it’s can have a harsh backlash.

Do not judge. You may not agree with everything, but remain open—even while giving advice that says “I don’t agree.” Start from a place of acceptance. I don’t expect any of us humans to look at the world, much less upsetting problems, the same way. So I offer information, encouragement and, yes, some Good Witch fairy dust along with good advice. Then, I let it go. I work very hard to not be tied to the outcome. That learning and practice—constant practice—keeps me from being too attached to whether or not someone followed my advice. Because quite often—they don’t.

But all I can say is, don’t take it personally! Giving advice is an offering, not a guarantee of 100% perfect outcome. Do not take responsibility for someone else’s life. That, too, is part of not being too attached. However, if you gave advice that someone followed and it turned out badly, then apologies are in order. Try to stay away from absolute answers—the kind that hold the implied 100% guarantee. Leave room for the unexplored, the unknown, other possibilities and, of course, the querent’s own free will.

My advice to you is to offer your knowledge with love, as well as an open mind and heart. Allow people to live their lives recognizing that no one is obliged to take your advice and you are not responsible for the outcome. Yes, bad advice does deserve an apology. In some cases as it’s as benign as “Oh, sorry that shampoo didn’t work out for you.” But, even if it deserves a more potent apology, remember free will trumps advice in the responsibility scale. In other words, sure Eve could say, “Sorry, Adam, I guess eating the apple wasn’t a great idea.” But in the end, advice or no, Adam decided to take the bite. Free will. He chose. His responsibility.

So, I guess all I can tell you is to keep doing your thing. In the end, we give advice because we want to help. For all the haters, I’m sure you have some cheerleaders too. We can’t help everyone, so just keep doing you. It’s the role of a lifetime!

Good luck,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

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