I have a co-worker who always asks me for advice on how to work. Sometimes it has to do with working with clients, sometimes with difficult office relationships, sometimes a lot of things at work. They can be concerned about these things, and their technical consultation requires lengthy discussions. I see my friend, and I am happy to help her, but she does not just follow my advice! He then returns to complain about the consequences. And he is asking for some advice. I don’t know why they ask again because they don’t listen. I don’t think my advice is always right – I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, especially what anyone else should do – but ignoring it all the time is annoying. Should I tell her to go ask someone?
Diane, I was with you until you said you don’t think your advice is always useful. That and It is very frustrating when people rely on your advice but often do not ignore things. But it annoys me, for me, because my advice is always good and anyone who ignores my advice is hurting themselves by choosing the wrong path.
I laugh (if…), but I think your insecurities speak volumes. If you show infidelity with your advice when talking to a friend, they will not take you seriously. Are you telling him “I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, especially what everyone else should do”? Maybe you’re cutting yourself, so they’ll ask you what you’re saying why it’s you to doubt what you are saying.
Obviously, I’m not advocating self-deception in providing advice. It is a huge responsibility, given carefully to trusted friends and online bozos. You don’t have to act like you feel safe with 100% your answer on a difficult topic when you don’t feel safe for a hundred.
So, what should you do? When you see a clear solution to a problem, say it clearly and firmly. If you are on the fence, talk to him through your thoughts. They may even bring you questions that you feel you should not answer, and you can do too! Encouraging other people to ask if it is necessary is a very important part of the technology, and I encourage you to use it. You say your co-worker is a friend, so he should appreciate your honesty in your opinion.
But there may be a very important connection going on here. Sometimes a coworker or a colleague who comes to you is pleading Should I do ooooooo? they really want your answer to that question. But often, in my experience, all I really want is to talk to someone I trust. You seem to see your conversation approaching a real answer, but I think it’s possible that a co-worker thinks of you as a more understandable group than an adult.
When you offer tips for discussion instead of online, your betting is asking a lot of questions. Start with the obvious sign of a family relationship: “Are you looking for a place to show off, or are you looking for advice?” Listen carefully to the answer – if they just want to make sure that your coworker is confused, your ideas on how to help him or her will not be accepted.
Even if he or she clearly tells you that he or she wants the advice, still, it does not mean that your responsibility is to play the Ikea handbook which has several sections. All of us number we need someone to help us, but we all realize that this is not possible. You may not be the only one asking for advice, but even if you do, you are not the most important person in the matter – then. So add your own questions to help him think: What do you enjoy most? What do you fear will happen? What is the good news and the bad news? What happened the last time you tried the same method? At the end of your discussion, he will express his views without you having to offer specific advice on any problem he is facing.
If they have not, feel free to express your thoughts, but do so without touching your heart. Just because they choose a different path doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate your ideas; they do not continue to come to you if they do not. And if all else fails, tell her that you may want to help but that you know the unchanging bozo who loves most visitors’ problems to solve.
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