Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giving Advice in 7 Steps: Sharing What You Know While Remaining Likable

"Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others." Jacob Braude

Braude's above quote smacks of a kind of truth that most of us teachers, trainers, seminar and workshop leaders, ministers, priests, rabbis and mullahs have a tendency to overlook. We think we have something to say and if we say it just right, it will sink in to the listener, the viewer, the trainee, the student. We forget, though, that the recipients of our wisdom come to us for their own reasons, not ours.

With that in mind, here are seven points* for us gurus (and anyone who desires to dispense advice, which, it turns out, is most of us) to grasp and understand as we fling our accumulated brain wares out into the Four Winds:
  1. Everyone comes to the learning situation with a lifetime of experiences, regardless of age.
  2. Those experiences are different from all others.
  3. They include the ability to perform many skills.
  4. They also include misconceptions, biases, prejudices, and preferences. Some of what people think they know is actually wrong.
  5. People trying to learn something new are vulnerable.
  6. Learners avoid pain and embarrassment. Don't cause it.
  7. Learners feel good about themselves when their learning is recognized or when something good happens as a result of their progress and successes.
Paying attention to these important truths will help us understand that what we have to offer can only be received and be of benefit when we share it with respect, honesty, and humility.  

As the little old poem says, "Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff...and nudge me when I've said enough."

*The above list is attributed to Robert Mager, from his book What Every Manager Should Know About Training, 2nd Ed. 1999

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