If you want my advice, don’t forget about coaching when you’re asked for advice!!
I set up a meeting recently to ask someone I know well (but hadn’t seen for a while) for some advice about an area I want to work on and improve as I felt they could help. It didn’t go well.
No sooner was the area I was keen to discuss out of my mouth, they were straight in with advice about what I should do. I had planned to share more about what I was currently doing but because I used the phrase, “I’m keen to get your advice..”, they were off and running and spent the rest of the meeting offering ideas I was either already using or had dismissed as not suitable. It was a very frustrating meeting for me but as they were so keen to try and help, I didn’t share this with them ☹ (top tip – if you want someone to be honest about how useful your help was, DON’T say, “I hope that was useful for you?”. Being honest with feedback is hard enough without ‘hope-dashing’ being added into the mix!).
The temptation when you’re asked for advice is to just give advice. Rather than take a little bit of time to understand the issue in more detail. It feels good that people value your opinion, but this does add a bit of pressure to the conversation (I try not to use the word advice for this reason) – “what will they think if I can’t help them?” – so you can end up trying too hard to help.
What would I do if our roles were reversed? This is where an understanding of coaching comes in handy. I would ask questions to identify the SPECIFIC areas where help is needed which will also reduce any, ‘I hope I can help’ pressure. With a specific area to work with, I can work out quickly if I can help them or not. And even if I can’t, but I know someone else who can, that’s still very useful ‘advice’!
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