Advice is a part of life. Smart people listen to advice, think about it, and decide later for themselves. I’ve been on both sides of the advice exchange as much as anybody, as a son, father, and grandfather, sure; but also as a business employee, a business founder, owner, and manager. And as a so-called expert, teacher, writer, blogger, and ask-the-expert answerer.
Having dealt with this for several decades, I think there are two absolutely essential rules for dealing with advice. This includes business and personal advice.
1. Give advice like you give a gift.
You choose the gift, wrap it up, and present it to somebody. After you do, it’s theirs. You don’t stand over them to make sure they use it, right? Can you give advice without investing yourself in whether or not it’s taken?
Once you give the advice, let it go. Let the recipient decide what to do with it. With gift giving, ownership changes hands. So too with advice giving. You don’t own it. You don’t care what the receiver does with it. If you do care, then it wasn’t really advice, and it wasn’t really a gift.
Don’t follow up. Don’t ask the advice recipient what happened next. Let it go.
2. Receive advice like a gift.
Don’t we teach children to say thank you and, whether or not they like the gift, to pretend they love it? We say: “That’s just what I always wanted.” We don’t say “that’s the last thing I needed. I can’t use it.”
But how often do people react to the gift of advice by making it clear they didn’t need it? I do it, too. It seems to be some kind of negative instinct. Sure, you know everything, I understand. I do too. But is there a chance that somebody, someday, might be able to offer you something useful? Better to stay open to the possibility, right?
Instead of rushing to show how useless that advice was, if you don’t like or want or need or want to use the advice you’re given, act as if it were a gift. Put it aside for the moment as if you value it, and then let it go. Better yet, you open your eyes, think about it, and then make your own decision. Base it on the merits.
If you don’t follow that advice, don’t mention it again. If the giver asks, explain that you valued it and thought about it thoroughly and finally adapted it to your exact situation. And thank them again.
(Image: Tanya len/Shutterstock)
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