This past weekend was a rare bachelor’s weekend for me. My wife was entertaining a friend at a wonderful spa, Ste. Annes, and I was left to my own devices.
Oh dear. Look out!
Suffice it to say it wasn’t difficult to fill a few days with boy’s activities; golf, steak dinner and to top it all off watching the quarter final between Italy & England as they made their play for EUFA EURO 2012 Cup.
On par, Saturday evening I was out for a steak with the boys and one of the guys was reliving a story about when we was still dating his wife. He said something that almost made me spray my wine out my nose. It went something like this, “It took her nearly 6 dates for her to come around to the awesomeness of me.”
He was responding to another friend who was talking about a tough time he was having dating a girl he really likes. She wasn’t really seeing his “awesomeness”. So, like the a-typical guys we are the advice started to fly. Try this, try that, ask he out again, etc, etc, etc. Pretty simple stuff we all thought.
But it’s so easy from the other side, isn’t it?
Well, our friend shut us up right quick by responding “I am getting sick of all the advice.”
It made me think to myself, “What gives me the right?”
Its crap, isn’t it? Especially, when you are golfing. It’s amazing that when you have an average round all the experts come out of the woodwork. Everyone has a way to fix this and that. Look at the ball, don’t bend your elbow, adjust your stance, don’t be a jerk, for heaven’s sake, it just never ends.
It’s the same crap we were spewing at our friend about dating before he even asked.
Do someone’s comments about an issue they are having automatically give us the leeway to chime in?
I think your friends have the right to talk about their challenges to you and as a friend it is your job to listen. When you hear a question, then and only then, should it be ok to offer your insight, expertise or knowledge about the subject. That just seems to make sense to me.
So, what happens here in the social spaces; the blogosphere? That place we all know and love. Or better yet, in the office? Sure, we all have friends at work and those friends rely on you the same way as you rely on them to navigate through the challenges life throws at you but you also have colleagues and there are certainly others who you might just call acquaintances. Would you consider giving them advice, those colleagues or acquaintances, if they don’t ask for it?
Now, I consider myself fortunate because the place I work offers educational opportunities in the form of lunch time seminars where advice is given on a topic of choice and where friends, colleagues and acquaintances can listen and ask questions. All you have to do is sign up and show up. Simple!
The difference is choice. You choose to participate.
And that’s the deal with blogging too, isn’t it? It’s also not unsolicited. You either choose to read this brand of – cough – insight – cough – or you don’t. You choose to comment on it or not. You choose to ask a question or you don’t.
I used to have an Asian shop teacher in high school that was famous for saying, “Working with metal is like working with wood. It’s the same, only different.”
So, my advice on advice is…..
Listen to the story and wait for a question. If it comes, then answer it. If you are not qualified to answer it suggest someone who is. If the question never comes then you can simply be a sounding board.
Maybe that’s all they will need.
So, what’s your advice for me to become a better leadership professional?
I hope you enjoy this little tidbit. Seems kind of appropriate…..