My life’s aim—put very generically—is to help people as much as I can. (The full version addresses my relationship to God, my family, leadership, and adventure). For a long while, I thought being helpful meant giving great advice.
So I began to learn as much as I could, growing my stockpile of valuable knowledge. But eventually I realized that giving advice isn’t always the best way to help others. In fact, I discovered that unsolicited advice is received as judgement. Tweet This By the way, the more insightful the advice you want to share, the more you want to share it. But the better your advice, the less likely they will receive it when they didn’t ask for it. When your advice is spot on, it exposes their lack more clearly. It’s a tragic irony. There is a time when giving advice is what they are asking for and helps. But more often, asking great questions is more helpful than telling others true answers. Tweet This
When I learned this, I helped others by telling 95% of the time, only asking 5%. And even though much of my work these days is delivering presentations, I’ve worked hard to change that. Even in my workshops (where I could get away with pure telling if I wanted) I ask the participants questions and give them time to discuss. And I’ve found that people at my workshops rate me as much more helpful when there are lots of questions and discussion time.
What’s your default? Asking or telling? In your key relationships (work, kids, best friend) what’s the percentage of time you spend telling vs. asking? 60% telling (40% asking)? 90% telling? What do you want it to be?
This holiday season, what if you didn’t give advice to any of your relatives? What if you just asked questions and listened?