Many receive advice, only the wise profit by it.
Fortune Cookie

    I have this peculiar urge to give advice and make suggestions.  It has resulted in my creating this huge web site. 

  It has been my experience that often, even when people ask for advice they don't take the advice they are given.   When the advice is not solicited people sometimes resent the advice. 

   When people are given advice they often conclude that there is an implied message that the advice-giver thinks he is smarter than they are.   They may regard the advice as if it is criticism of the way they are doing things.  Naturally both these conclusions are likely to lead these people to reject the advice, however good it may be.

  I once made the mistake of advising my lawyer not to offer to low a settlement to quickly with the other side.  She became very angry because she heard the implied message that I did not have faith in her abilities as a negotiator.  She told me from now on only to give her facts, not advice.

    Since people tend to reject advice often the best way to persuade people is to lead them to discover it for themselves by questions.  If one is asking questions than one is treating the other person as if they know better instead of acting as if one knows better. 

    I was once at a company meeting where a worker bought up the problem he faced of wanting to give constructive criticism but of not wanting to create dissension in the company.  The supervisor of the meeting said that often people will react to constructive criticism by concluding that the criticizer has some malevolent motive for saying what he says and that before giving it you need to know the person well and they have to know that you are authentic and wouldn't make a criticism unless you believed it to be true.  He also said that it's best to tell someone how they can improve rather than they are not doing a good job.

    It's hard to take constructive criticism.   Benjamin Franklin once said that "Our critics are our friends, for they do show us our faults".  Criticism may be painful but if one learns from it then it can lead to a lot less pain in the long run.

   It's important to realize that one may not have the best advice.  One thing I've discovered is that often when I give advice I am not aware of all the details of the situation and there are good reasons why the person I am advising has not followed my advice previously.  Or in some cases they already tried my advice and ran into problems. 

 

c o p y r i g h t   ( c )   1 9 9 9 -2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises.  All rights reserved

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