I got to give out advice two times last week....one time it was even asked for. Well maybe a tad bit few more times i gave it out for free; like the bagger at the grocery store that threw cans on top of my tomatoes; and the woman the cut me off in traffic I gave her a little unwarranted advice of where she could put that finger she was flipping at me; oh, the best was the advice to my four year old daughter that she should always wear pants OVER her underwear...
Anyway this is the tale of two kinds of advice, Business Advice and Personal Advice. One of them was not really um asked for...you can uh...guess which one I bet.
1. Business Advice
A friend who is a fellow business owner and a good friend called me at the end of the day, she was having 'one of those days'. She just wanted to commiserate about things, she was tired, plain old tired of doing it all. I empathized for sure, and I agreed with her, having seen the sad and lonely side of being a sole proprietor. We did not talk for long, and I did not feel I helped her at all. After a night of sleep and a couple conversations with my husband I decided I should call her back. I called her the next morning, and said, "Okay I have thought about what you said and I want to know, do you want my advice or did you just want me to listen to you?" She said, yes she did value my opinion and she did indeed want my advice.
I told her not to worry about best sellers,or margins, or anything but be true to what her company was based on. She started to say 'yes, but (my favorite saying) that is not even close to our best seller'. My response was well figure what you want to do - and do that. Either let someone else do the "other things" or stop doing everything. And I threw a quote back at her that she told me years ago, "You can't be everything to everybody".
Whether she decides to take my advice or not is not the point. She had called for and asked for advice, not just someone to agree with her. I hope I helped her. The conversation would have gone very differently had I just blurted out advice during our first conversation.
2. Personal Advice
My sister was not happy about something and she started to tell me about it. She was just relaying the story and asking if I agreed. Well, I guess I put my "I'm going to give you advice" hat and I agreed and then gave some advice, then some more....then kept talking. She (to her credit) said I am not ready to hear that, and that is not what I want to talk about right now. Then she turned away and kept talking and saying, I do not want to talk about it, and maybe later I will ask you. So as I was leaving the room I then decided to put on another hat, "I am your Big Sister that will Push Your Buttons" hat and I said something.....not nice, not true and not what I meant to say.
Ah...ya well she blew up at me, she got really mad at me. I yelled back - a big nasty crying fight with very hurt feelings, hers mostly (Sibling fights are the worst and sometimes nastiest - we know each other oh too well).
Well the damage was done, I tried to explain what I meant and I tried to calm her down. I apologized and apologized over and over. She was really mad at me....um did I mention that already? I know I deserved her wrath, whether it was true or not it was not warranted and I am kicking myself even as I write this. In fact I am still trying to pry my size 6 shoe out of my mouth, since firmly planting it there Saturday afternoon.
Problem is I broke cardinal rule number one, I never asked if she wanted my advice. And...after she TOLD me she did not under any circumstances want any of my advice, I then blurted it out anyway.
When I worked in computer animation, and on the computer for like 10 hours a day, I started to get some crazy thoughts. It was usually at the end of a project and after pulling 12 or 14 hour days I would get pretty punch-drunk tired. I would drop things a lot and say things I should not (lack of sleep and stress-induced deadlines will do that to me). Anyway, after screwing something up I would always in my head think CTRL+ Z, sometimes I would even say it out loud or type it in the air, hoping by some miracle that I could change history......
CTRL+Z, CTRL + Z....