Blog Post

Don't give advice - just listen?

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 25 March 2014



Don't give advice - just listen?
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 165
Posted DateTuesday 25 March 2014 10:57 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

What is it about conversation at times? I see someone struggling with what to do in a situation. They ask for help. I want to have an open conversation with them to explore ideas.

But as soon as I start to talk - they start to argue, they defend, they attack -- I say "look just reserve judgement for now" - but they seem incapable of that. They state assumptions as a matter of fact - I suggest there maybe be other causes/reasons - they are categoric that their view is the only one and the right one. They turn the conversation emotional. Actually, this is not really a conversation - it never can be.

Maybe I am not skilful enough - maybe what I say or the way I say it seems like an attack on their judgement - on their intelligence. But in some situations - how ever I play it - the conversation is turned into a debate - a fight as to who is right and who is wrong.

But maybe there is another way of looking at it?
Advice is unfriendly to learning, especially when it is sought.

Most of the time when people seek advice, they just want to be heard.

Advice at best stops the conversation, definitely inhibits learning, and at worst claims dominance.

Credit: Peter Block
Is the answer really that simple? Don't give advice - just listen?

Stephen Covey says something similar on empathic listening.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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