Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Big Fat Momentous Decision

I feel GREAT today! Better than I’ve felt for days. Not physically, but emotionally. Want to know why?

Today I’ve vowed to keep my big mouth shut.

I’ve been struggling this week with the number of people who have recently solicited my advice yet haven’t taken it. I realize people aren’t obligated to take my advice, so I can’t fault them. However, I CAN change my response to these requests. And I’ve made the liberating decision to decline such requests—no more advice, solicited and otherwise.

If someone wants my input, I’ll come up with something. Input is easier to dispense than advice. It can be as simple as one thought that, when added to the clamor of all the other input the person has reeled in from friends and family, may or may not get used. When people ask for input, they’re comparing options. One person’s input may carry no more weight than anyone else’s.

But advice is altogether different. There is an implied trust between the asker and the giver—an implied respect—that compels me to honor the request with supreme thoughtfulness, seriousness, and compassion. It requires consideration of many scenarios and their outcomes. Guiding the person through these possibilities to make the best decision takes time and energy. And I believe the advice should be regarded by the receiver in the same light.

I’m not alone in this. I know other folks who are bothered when people—especially family members—ask for their advice and then subsequently find that it’s been ignored. Often, people who ask for advice have no idea why the people they ask get upset. I believe advice-dispensers must view this as a communication problem—a language glitch and not a personal snub. It’s up to us to ascertain whether individuals want our advice or our input. If we have to explain the difference, fine. It may be the only way to prevent future hurt feelings, which can jeopardize relationships.

Anyway, today I’ve decided that mum’s the word. And mum feels fine.

[Art: Three Wise Sock Monkeys—See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil by PeeWee's ClayHouse.]

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