So – You Want My Advice, Do You?

20 Jul

Here’s a good question:  When exactly did I become the Voice of Reason?

Is this something that comes with age, an affliction like aching joints and bad eyesight?  Is it something you are gifted with, like a brick of Christmas fruitcake?  Or is it some kind of award, like “Most Improved”?

Everyone has an opinion, right?  What’s so special about mine?

Offering advice comes with the burden of responsibility.  A few casual comments could change the course of someone’s life.  I hardly ever tell people what they should do, unless they are in mortal danger of being run over by a bus or getting their hand stuck in my biting kettle.  I like to draw out their own thoughts and opinions, help them make up their own mind on the matter.  Force them to take a cold hard look at the pros and cons.  Who will benefit?  Who will get hurt?  What is the price of this decision?

This approach often gives me a look I’ll call The Cold Glare.  Nobody wants this kind of homework.  It’s frustrating, time consuming, and hard work.  All they want is a simple answer – a straightforward direction.  And I hand them a map and tell them to pick their own path.

Am I fence sitting?  Unwilling or unable to make up my own mind?  Or do I realize they’re going to bloody well do what they want to do, regardless of what I have to say?  You tell me.

My character Damon says it best.  “I could tell you what to do.  We could argue about it for weeks.  You need to make up your own mind about it.  Nothing else will satisfy you, in the end.”

After an answer like this, why would someone come back for more advice?

Because while I listen and ask questions, people tell me want they really want, what they really need.  Their passions spill out.  Plans hatch.  Ideas form.  Good ideas take root; bad ideas wither in the harsh light of reality.

The Voice of Reason lives inside all of us.  Listen to yours.  And that’s just good advice.

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10 Responses to “So – You Want My Advice, Do You?”

  1. Angela Addams July 21, 2011 at 9:51 AM #

    I know what you mean, however, I haven’t quite learned how to keep my opinion to myself. It doesn’t help that my friends all come to me for a shot of cold hard reality when they need advice. It’s gotten me into some trouble a few times and I’ve been trying very hard to keep my advice to myself unless I’m asked for it.

  2. Gareth July 21, 2011 at 1:47 PM #

    Nine times out of ten the questioner wants you to back up thier own POV, regardless of whether its right or wrong and as we all know it’s never usually balck or white but multiple shades of grey.

    What I tend to say to people is that they have to make up thier own mind and as long as they can look at themselves in the mirror with pride afterwards then its the right one.

    No opinion, no arguement, just think it through. You’re a good friend and obviously one who has a gift for finding a path through lifes mire which is why you’re asked. Just take it as a badge of honour and let them figure things out.

    • jdwaye July 21, 2011 at 2:21 PM #

      Thanks for dropping by, Gareth. You’re right about the “looking in the mirror” point.

  3. T. Crosby July 21, 2011 at 5:44 PM #

    Um, yeah, I’ll let you have it point blank. If you ask me if your ass looks fat in those jeans, I’m going to tell you. lol! But on a serious side, when it comes to bigger issues, I usually feel them out and then support the direction they clearly want to go in. Why? Simply put, good or bad, they’re going to do their way anyways. So the easiest thing is to just support them. 🙂

    • jdwaye July 24, 2011 at 9:43 AM #

      Remind me not to go jean shopping with you! LOL! The hard part is supporting someone when things don’t go right – but people need to learn, too.

  4. Anne Michaud July 21, 2011 at 6:01 PM #

    Di, you are SO right – instead of concentrating on what others think, we should focus on our own voice! Great post, my friend:)

    • jdwaye July 24, 2011 at 9:41 AM #

      Yes – you should listen to your inner voice! That’s where the crazy original daring ideas come from.

  5. Patricia Hollett July 23, 2011 at 8:15 PM #

    A good blog. Interesting and down to earth. While its easier to give advice, and give someone the answer we think is right, we don’t always know what’s NOT being said. So, sometimes its better to ask…”what do you think you should do?” and let them decide themselves. I often have to pause in order to remember to do this, because 5/10 times my mouth opens before my head thinks it though… so not funny. We can’t always guide others, or make the best decisions for them. Its better if they do it themselves.
    This is something everyone encounters from time to time. And a damn good post Di!! 🙂

    • jdwaye July 24, 2011 at 9:40 AM #

      Thanks for dropping by, Pat. You’re right about not knowing about “what’s not being said.” That is the critical factor, isn’t it?

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