I remind myself not to give advice in two contexts. The first is closely tied to my previous blog “Don’t add value”. In this case, imagine someone has just shared a problem with you. This could be a coworker, family member, friend…or just the guy sitting next to you on the bus. If you are like me, you are tempted to immediately offer them a solution to their problem. But here’s the thing; they didn’t ask for my advice. Offering advice when it isn’t asked for, beyond being presumptuous, may not get the reaction you expected. In fact, you may find that the recipient of your infinite wisdom gets a little defensive, testy even. I do. I don’t like people to tell me what I should do when I’m just talking something through. And honestly, when you do this what is your true motivation? Many people do this for the same self-serving reasons they add value that I covered in my previous post. If you really are trying to help this person, especially a child or a junior member of your workplace team, spoon-feeding them an answer isn’t the best way to help. It is much more beneficial to assist them with problem solving through a bit of coaching. This makes for more resilient young humans and workers. Don’t give advice if you weren’t directly asked for it.
The second scenario where I remind myself not to give advice is when I want someone to pay me for it. I’m a consultant. Advice is my product, so I shouldn’t be giving it away. This can happen when I meet a potential client in a non-business setting. It might play out something like this. I ask about what they do and they start talking about their problems at work. They talk about the things they’ve tried and didn’t work and then wanting to help, I ask “have you tried this…?”. I’ve just given free advice/consulting. A similar scenario could play out at a first contact meeting. I’ve just finished a tour of their production area and they ask “what do you think?”. I might default to the same “have you tried this…?” line. In both cases, I suppose that subconsciously I may be trying to impress them so that I can ask about starting a consulting project. The problem is that some folks will squeeze all the free advice out of you that they can, continue to lead you on, and then never engage with you on a fee-based project. Been there, done that. Don’t give advice to prospects or clients if you aren’t being compensated in some manner.
Don’t give advice,