Monday, July 30, 2018

Responding to Guidance and Advice with Respect

Guidance and advice unrequested is often met with sarcasm, negativity, dismissal, and disrespect. Who wants advice or guidance they didn't ask for?

I've been on both sides of this situation. I've offered advice and guidance without a request, and I've received advice and guidance without request.

To receive this kind of help often leads one to wonder why another felt you needed that kind of advice or help. You might think don't they trust me or they don't know me or why do they think I need this. On the other hand, sometimes when you offer this kind of help, you might do it because you deeply think the advice or guidance will improve the other person's life.

I think, in all, it's best to respond to unwarranted advice and guidance with respect and to take a minute to step outside your sensitivities and truly think about the information shared with questions such as:

  • Could this positively enrich or better my life?
  • What's stopping me from taking this seriously?
  • Is this worth acting on now or perhaps acting on later?
  • Realistically why might I refuse this suggestion? What's holding me back?
Recently I received some unwarranted advice that did not interest me due to some personal reasons and goals that the advice giver would not know about. I politely noted that I wasn't interested, but in hindsight it may have been better to respond with more details about why the advice was not a good match for my life right now. 

As I think about advice I offered that was not received well recently, I think it was worth a chance. I shared the advice thinking that perhaps it would create common ground with me and another person, but clearly the common ground that I felt existed doesn't exist. It was worth a chance, and now I won't share that kind of advice again with that individual. I'll listen and observe a little more to understand where this person is coming from to better understand the individual's pursuits, needs, and connections. 

In the end, we have to be respectful and thoughtful about the advice we share, the advice we're given, and how we share and accept advice. It's true that we need each other and can profit from each other's experiences, but it's not always the right time or right connection to maximize that potential.