Giving Advice

A few weeks ago, I met with a friend for a catch-up meeting. He is a senior, experienced, multi-time successful entrepreneur whose opinions are worth heeding. During the catch-up, we started talking about some of the work that I am doing and in particular a couple of companies with whom I am working. He weighed in with some advice which was very pointed, very direct and probably very correct, yet even though I wanted to hear his opinion, it somewhat pissed me off.  So the last few weeks, I have been trying to figure out why I felt the way I did and more importantly, whether I leave others feeling the same way when I give advice.

During that meeting, I felt a tiny bit like a kid being lectured by my parents. He didn't mean to cause that feeling but that is how I felt.

There was one specific piece of advice he gave that my client and I had thoroughly discussed and chosen to go against conventional wisdom because we believed the circumstances are slightly different. I was exhausted from discussing this issue and the position we had taken. I did not want to get into discussing it further because it would have distracted the meeting and not been productive. Whether my client and I  made the right decision on this one issue will only be known over time so I just sat politely and listened to my friend's opinion, hoping we could pass over the issue quickly and get on to more productive discussions. I am sure my actions on this one issue made me look weak or my body language sent him a message that I wasn't listening or open to his opinion.

As a result of my feelings about the meeting, I have been examining how I can improve on how I give advice to my clients. I have been mulling over what he did and how it could have been delivered differently. Combining these insights with past learning, here is what I have come up with:

(Disclaimer: the following may be in the category of "the pot calling the kettle black" because I have been told that sometimes I am too blunt, lecture too much, preach too much, am too forceful in giving opinion, and much more)  

Giving advice is tricky. If you have any advice for me on how I give advice, I would love to hear it.

© 2012 Meaford Group

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