A Trusted Advisor
When it comes to giving advice, there is a multitude of people always willing to help. People feel good when they are in a position to help a friend in need overcome a challenge of some kind or other. Parting with information or knowledge from their own experiences, we make the assumption that if it worked for us, it is more than good enough for those in need.
But have we really considered what the other person is really telling us? In my previous article ‘Learning to Listen with Influence’, I was describing how fully engaging with the other person can stimulate a depth of consciousness that enables the other person to elicit their own answers. But in the frenetic pace of modern society people are hard pushed for time, so therefore with the best intentions we part with our own valuable experiences and knowledge and expect that person’s dilemma to be solved.
But that is just plain arrogant. It may come across as a noble act of helping another person, but what it is really saying is that I am superior to you and that means you should listen to what I say. Or on the flip side it is saying you don’t know what to do, but as I have the answers then I am right.
This is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It is a selfish quick fix attempt to look as if you are trying help but in reality you are giving yourself that feel good factor because you believe you are right.
Now making a recommendation to consider an alternative to what they may have already tried or considered is a different story. This is enabling someone to take responsibility for their own outcomes by researching into others solutions rather than being blindly informed of a certain course of action to take.
Have you ever had anyone come to see you a few days, weeks or months later complaining that what you insisted they do proved to be a red herring or worst still, a complete disaster? Your response is no doubt angry, defensive and devoid of any kind of responsibility. Defensive utterances such as “I was only trying to help” or “You didn’t have to do what I said” are common.
When receiving advice from other people it is also our responsibility to take our own level of consciousness to a higher level and scrutinise what is being shared. In fact it is crucial. If everyone is that naive to take everything that is said as the gospel truth then we can lead ourselves down some paths that could prove difficult to rectify if unchallenged.
It is not rude or ungrateful to challenge what someone else is trying to share with us. It is having total respect for their model of the world and more importantly your own model as you share the same territory but how you experience it is completely different. This also helps you to pull out aspects of their solution to see how it could match with your dilemma. Think about how much more they will be learning and reconfiguring their understanding of what they might be sharing with you as they may part this advice on more than one occasion.
Now taking this advice sharing to another level, how about asking questions about this person’s dilemma before even uttering any form of advice? This is where you stimulate the person’s cognition and level of focus into finding their own answer. I am not talking about random questions that get the person to regurgitate their problem for the umpteenth time. I mean questions that force the person momentarily to pause before they answer and drawing out hidden information that has lay dormant and redundant until now.
This is the role of a trusted advisor. To emphatically commit to the other person’s welfare and well-being and give that person's interest your total focus. Anything short of this then you are playing a short hand that ultimately minimises your effectiveness to influence and create the bonds of a nourishing and long term relationship.
There are many skills and qualities required to be a trusted advisor that require years to mature and harness in the most effective ways. The first step to fulfilling this role is to have an intimate understanding of yourself and human temperament. The raising of your awareness of your self-image, your quality of character and how you perform in certain situations puts you in a truly remarkable position to adapt your response and reactions to others and what life throws at you.
Having this knowledge of self enables you to be more considerate of the needs of others and more thoughtful when parting with any advice. Realising that we experience the world in many different ways helps you to adapt your guidance in a way that ensures that those in need take the responsibility to look at the big picture rather than jumping onto the first possible solution. This will then evoke a feeling of ownership of the actions implemented giving that person freedom to make more crucial decisions when evaluating their situation.
And for you, not only do you get the opportunity to tell them “I told you so” when they ignore your attempts to expand their selection of options. You develop that level of trust that gets them making you the ‘go to person’ for advice and guidance. Indeed a very valuable position to be in.