Whether you’re a leader, an expert, a parent, or just a general “advice giver,” it’s likely people come to you for your advice. When they do, you may have an expectation that they will listen when you speak and act on what you say.
Sometimes, they don’t. They hear what you say and then they go off and do the opposite.
How do you react?
A common reaction when someone doesn’t want to take our advice is to double down and insist. We want to prove to them that we are correct in our advice, that they’d be fools not to listen.
We may develop a belief that we are telling people something for “their own good.”
It’s easy to get invested in the advice we give to others. Sometimes, we may try to control how the advice-requestors act. After all, they came to us for advice.
Quick Tip #1: If they didn’t come to you for advice, then you shouldn’t be offering any. Nobody appreciates unsolicited advice.
If you’ve ever found yourself in that position, here are a few things to remember.
Guidance for Advice Givers:
Giving advice about something is essentially a prediction of the future.
You may believe you’re right. And you may be right. But you cannot prove you’re right until the future happens.
The only way to prove it is to allow the path to unfold so the others can see for themselves.
You may believe that you know how this will unfold. You may be certain that the path your client chose will cause her pain.
And you may be right.
But what if you’re wrong?
In matters of persuasion, there’s a simple mantra that is useful here:
Show. Don’t Tell.
The best way to learn is by experience.
Sometimes, what your clients need most is to run their own experiments and learn from that experience.
Ultimately, the role of a coach and of any leader is to hold the space for others to have their own experience.
What to do when someone asks for your advice
When asked for your expertise or advice, offer it. Be clear about the reasons why you are giving the advice you offer.
Then — and this is the hard part — detach from the outcome.
One reason we get so attached to our advice is that we become attached to the outcome of the person seeking the advice. When we offer advice, it’s easy to fall into the trap of investing ourselves in someone else’s life.
Investing energy in other peoples’ outcomes depletes the energy you need for your outcomes.
The challenge is to hold space for their experience while letting go of your attachment to their outcomes.
This is not always easy to do. But it makes no sense to fight about what will happen in the future. The future will be here soon enough, and then you’ll know that you were right. And so will they.
Quick Tip #2: When the future comes and proves you were right, don’t rub their face in it. It won’t make you look better.