“I'll tell you one thing: Don't ever give anybody your best advice, because they're not going to follow it.” Jack Nicholson
I’m taking a different tack for my 2014 New Year’s resolutions. Instead of committing to start doing something new, I’m committing to stop doing something instead. My goal? Stop giving unsolicited advice.
I want to be a better listener. It’s hard to stay present in a conversation if you are constantly engaged in your own internal dialogue, cataloguing all your great solutions to your conversation partner’s problems. A coaching colleague calls this “mental googling” and says when he catches himself doing it he tells himself “Stop!” so he can return to the conversation stream.
I want to be a better role model to my leadership coaching clients. For years, I’ve been advising my executive coaching clients that to become more effective leaders they need to stop giving so much advice to their direct reports. Can you spot the oxymoron in that sentence?
I want to better respect my friends’, clients’ and family members’ ability to come up with their own solutions to their problems. When I jump in with my own laundry list of clever solutions, I am essentially telling them they are incapable of doing so on their own.
Do I think this will be easy? No I do not!
I think advice dispensing is a bit of an addiction. Giving it out gives you a quick hit of satisfaction. Problem? Got a solution! Another problem? No problem, I have an answer (or two or three) for that one too. It’s the thinking person’s version of the old arcade game, Whack a Mole.
It requires me to stop overdoing one of my strengths. I pride myself on my analytical abilities and talent for coming up with creative solutions. It’s always far more fun to play to your strengths than work on a weakness.
To help make this change, I will:
- Share this resolution with others and ask for their support in helping me make this change.
- Work on asking better open-ended questions that encourage my clients to inquire within themselves and come up with their own answers (being careful to avoid questions that steer them one way or another).
- Ask for permission first. If I absolutely can’t resist, I’m going to ask my conversation partners if they are open to advice before giving it unasked.
- Keep my eyes on the real end goal: Becoming a better friend, coach, wife, sister and mother in 2014. Here’s to a whole new year.
Lauren works with businesses leaders who want to develop and execute succession plans, sharpen their business practices, strengthen their leadership, and create long-lasting value in their businesses. She is a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Leadership Coach. She is also a leader of the Excell Puget Sound Southend Group.
(206) 427-2856, (253) 245.3518