Saturday, June 29, 2019

Multiplier: Take the Advice You Have for Others

Whenever you notice that you have some advice for someone, look for ways you can take that advice yourself. I wrote about this before but I want to address it specifically. There are benefits to this that take some consideration to recognize. 

Imagine that you have already found a way to put into practice the advice you'd like to offer your friend. Do you think there is much difference between telling the story of going that way (whether you imagine it* or already did it) and offering the advice directly? I think one would be far more effective and I see two reasons for that. 

When I hear a story, I like to draw my own lessons from it. Those lessons are mine, not anyone else's, even if they are exactly the lessons that the author of the story was trying to teach. The author reached me in a meaningful and intimate way, obviously.  This often happens without me even being aware that I learned something. 

If all I read was the author's description of the lesson (without any personal story), I can imagine writing it off as obvious, or finding ways to challenge it. Of course, I can also imagine taking the lesson to heart, but the chances of that seem way lower than if I derived the lesson from his or her personal story instead. 

If the author's intended lesson reflects some poor analysis, the story still provides fuel for some kind of lesson. The naked advice doesn't. Instead, it just suggests something that is a bad idea,  after all. You don't lose points for telling a story in which you took some bad advice unless you explicitly endorse the bad advice. This holds true even when you don't realize it's bad advice. It could even give your audience a chance to see how to handle your role in the story in a more effective way. 

*If you have only imagined taking the advice you're thinking of offering, and you can't remember ever following it yourself, consider switching directions.  Lay out the situation of your imagined story for your friend and ask if they have ideas on in how to handle it. Think of your conversation as a cooperative search for truth instead of you offering them a solution. In fact, that approach is nearly always better than trying to convince someone of something you already assume (or "know").

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