Thursday, April 11, 2013

Replace advice with curiosity when you want to make a difference

One of my favourite things about my work is that it frequently reminds me that the best thing I can do for other people is to help them connect with their own best selves.  It's a little paradoxical: even when they come with questions for me, what they really need is the answers they will generate themselves. It's always easy to give advice: after all, any question will launch us on an internal search for an answer.

And that's what we need to remember most of the time that people seek our advice.  We can give them information but the information we give will rarely give them any real help.  It can be a good way to keep a conversation going until we locate what they really need: a memory, a model, a hope that is within their experience and precisely what they need in the current situation.  They can find it more easily when they come to us, because we can ask them questions. And they, like us, find questions almost irresistible.

In my personal life, when I am not in fully coaching state, I am as prone to give advice as the next person. It's my helpful nature or maybe my problem solving mind. Any puzzle is enough to start the wheels turning, even if the puzzle is not mine to solve. That's why I value my training in NLP and solution focus.  It gives me a better puzzle to solve, a better outlet for my curiosity: I can puzzle out what questions will uncover answers and build resourcefulness in ways I could never predict.

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