Just this week someone made contact with me and began her email with (paraphrased):
“I asked your advice several years ago and followed it”
My heart started to flutter a little if I’m honest; had I given her good advice? Was she contacting me now to tell me her life was a mess because she listened to me?
Well, no, she wasn’t. Phew. We had talked informally years ago about her leaving her job and setting up as a freelance consultant/trainer. I had advised that she consider the options of getting a little more experience in a particular area before she did so. She told me that she had followed my advice and said it had really paid off for her and she was actually contacting me to talk about becoming one of my licensed trainers! Moreover, she said that in her work with young women she often talked about women who pulled up the ladder after them, and women who reached out and helped. She generously said that she had always cited me as one of the latter. What a lovely compliment. And after all these years I did remember her so she must have had something special too.
But it did make me pause and think about the the art of giving advice. It’s a potential minefield. I am frequently asked to advise women, often just a few moments after meeting them or sometimes at the end of a course (I’m not talking about a coaching relationship here). I am careful not to say categorically Do This or That, because everyone is different. Sometimes I just ask more questions helping them get to the answer themselves. And sometimes, as in the case above, I share a little of what I have done that works for me.
My guiding rule in giving advice is always to be as ethical and as honest as possible. And in receiving advice? Learn to trust your instincts and recognise that although people may give advice with the best of intentions, like with anyone unwanted gift, you can just say thanks very much and pop it in the spare room when they’ve gone!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
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