Lately, I've had a rash of "I want your advice" calls. These calls are always interesting—if only for the delicate dance that is required.
For example, a woman was recently referred to me by a friend. This woman stated that she wanted my advice. She was interested in starting a marketing company. I listened to her and then started offering suggestions for how she could get started. She proceeded to shoot down every one of my suggestions. No—I can't do that. No—I don't have enough money. No—I live too far away. No—my eyes are blue. Finally, I pointed out that she didn't sound like someone who truly wanted to start a business. I asked, "Are you sure you really want to do this?"
The phone fell silent. Then she unleashed a torrent of negativity: you're no help, I shouldn't have called you, etc. I was a bit startled and wondered what she had expected. She hung up before I could protest, "But you asked for my advice."
What I think she wanted is someone to reinforce her own negative self-talk, not reflect it. Therein lies the tricky part of advice. It's fairly easy to give it and more difficult to receive it. This would-be entrepreneur seemed to have created one reality in her head—she couldn't start a business and really wasn't prepared for someone to say she could. This in turn forced her to question whether that's what she really wanted to do. It seems she wasn't ready to face the answer.
I firmly believe that the answers to our questions are within us. My caller wanted answers but she wasn't ready to listen—to herself. This is a difficulty most of us have and why advice can be so helpful—it clues us into what we're really feeling—not just what we're thinking.
There can often be a big disconnect between the two and recognizing the gap is one of the first steps in facing our own truths. Another way? Ask for some advice. Gauge your reaction—what are you telling you? In the end, what I hope is that when you ask the question, you're ready to hear your answer.