One column I read faithfully is the Dear Amy column. I love critiquing the advice and mocking the stupid people who write in with idiot questions.
Ok, maybe I’m just a little grateful I don’t have those situations and don’t need any advice. (Not that I would take it anyway!)
This past week I read something in her response that really rang true. A reader wrote in to complain that her girlfriend would ask for advice and never take it. “It was good advice, damn it! Why didn’t she just take it and do what I told her?”
This one hit a home run.
I have had many people – friends, employees, executives – who have asked for advice over the years. Some people only want affirmation that what they think is correct.
Some people are trolling for a new solution or some miracle (that means easy) idea they may have missed.
Then there are those where the solution is as plain as the nose on your face but they don’t want to do that. It’s too hard or disruptive or painful or (egad!) expensive.
The columnist characterized advice as a gift. You give it and it’s up to the receiver to do what they want. Just like when you give a cookie jar for their birthday. Maybe they will keep it and use it or maybe they will put it out in their next yard sale. In either case it’s no longer your decision. It’s not your jar. Get over it!
That was wonderfully phrased (especially with my editing!).
I did a short stint volunteering for the phone line at a woman’s center. We had the same people call week after week with the same problems. When asked what they had done in the past week there were a dozen excuses but no progress. You can’t change your situation without making changes.
When I worked in Human Resources, I spent a good portion of my time advising people. Sometimes they followed through and sometimes not.
Sometimes the answer to a bad situation is to move on or out. Sometimes it’s to confront and sometimes it’s to learn coping mechanisms. There just aren’t any other remedies.
I’m mostly out of the advice business. Once in a while someone will ask because of my experiences.
When they ask I give them the gift and let them do as they will.