You never know when someone will give you an accolade, and sometimes you don’t know why they’re giving it to you. In this case I know why, and I’m glad I did it.

too late
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My friend Steve Borek, a certified life and leadership coach, just wrote a blog post after hitting the magic #100. He talked about his journey in getting there and how he spoke to different people along the way. But at the beginning of the post he thanked me for encouraging him to do it in the first place. Thanks Steve!

You know, many people, even if they ask for it, don’t like advice. I’ve learned this over all the years I’ve been a consultant. Sometimes you have to tell people things they’re not ready to hear and they’re not sure how to act on it.

The thing is, I have my ways of giving advice that for the most part not only helps but pushes things forward so that situations end up being a win-win. I follow 3 main principles where I can, and in sticking to them I’m successful way more often than not. Nothing’s perfect mind you; sometimes you have to break tradition in the 3 tips I’m going to give you. But overall, they tend to work very well. The one thing I’ll mention here is that sometimes in work situations you can’t follow all of these rules; you’ll know when to disregard them if you care.

1. Never give unsolicited advice. I know, this one’s hard to stick to. None of us likes watching someone fall off a cliff if we can help it. Even if it’s our best friend, most of us have learned that if they don’t ask then they probably won’t listen and won’t like that you’re not accepting them for who they are. If someone is a train wreck, I’d rather not hang with them until they reached out to wonder why I haven’t been available. Sometimes this is when you find out who your true friends are.

2. Never give advice without options. Even if there’s only one side to the story, which some people might debate that there’s no such thing, there’s always more than one way to conquer something. I work in the principle of 3’s, probably because it’s my favorite number, and one of those 3 options is always what I believe will happen if the person decides against taking my advice.

I like to think I’m pretty insightful in that I don’t make rash decisions or judgments on something unless it’s an emergency situation. Thus, if someone is finally coming to me for advice, I’ve usually always thought about things. Other times I’ll ask some probing questions if I didn’t see it coming, but since I usually know the people I’m talking to well enough I’ll know how to help them specifically, no matter the issue.

What are options like? Say you had a friend who you thought was drinking way too much, and they’re finally coming to you after waking up one more time in another person’s house with no memory of what happened. Advice might be something like going to rehab, joining Alcoholics Anonymous, or continuing with said behavior and either being taken advantage of in some fashion or developing long term problems such as liver damage. For me, an issue like this one would probably go deeper and require more options and conversation, so this is only an example.

3. Never condescend to someone so it looks like you’re taking the superior position. It’s easier to get on a high horse than people believe, and sometimes when giving advice we’ll say things that make us look like we’re above such behavior.

There’s a lot of bad behavior I don’t participate in or never have, but I’m certainly not perfect and have my own list of secrets I’d rather not share with anyone. I always remember that whenever I’m talking to someone, whether I know them well or not, and thus temper my words in a way that it sounds like the kind of advice they might get from any expert in as unbiased a way as possible.

People in bad situations don’t need to be made to feel worse than they already feel, and overall we need to be able to relate to each other on a somewhat equal footing when doling out our precious opinions. The person has already opened themselves up to scrutiny by coming to you in the first place; no point in piling on.

What’s your thought on this? Let me know, and once again thank you Steve, and continue towards that next milestone post.
 

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