Monday, April 12, 2010

An Alternative to Advice-Giving

My client said he was reluctant to let his friends know he's looking for a job.

Rather than give him the ol' pep talk, for example, "Friends are a great source of job leads, and don't worry, these days, lots of good people are looking for work," I said, "Pretend you are your twin brother and your brother said, 'I don't want to let my friends know I'm looking for a job.' How would you respond?"

He ended up giving the same advice I would have given.

Then I asked, "What would you say back to your twin?" He said, "I know, but it's hard. I'll be embarrassed to tell them." I asked, "How would your twin respond?" His "twin" said, "Get a grip and grow up." He laughed at himself.

Advice-giving is so tempting but often fails to get results. Where possible, figure out a way to get the person to come up with the advice himself.


Joanne said...

I'm a natural practical problem solvers so I naturally jump at the chance to solve problems, many times without thinking. I have realized now, however, that most people actually do no want advice. It is disappointing to see people continue to make the same mistakes and yet not be open to another perspective. This approach has given me another perspective on this issue and I will try the approach from now on.

Anonymous said...

Great suggestion, Marty!

I think this is a good idea for thinking about one's own problems too. I often find that I rationally know what I should do, but have some emotional barrier that makes me think, "Yeah, of course, but...(insert excuse)".

I like the idea of imagining a twin or some relative you care about in the same situation, and thinking what advice you would give them. It kind of takes you out of the picture for a minute. And then hopefully you realize you should likely taking the same advice you'd give to a brother you cared about.

Maureen said...

Nice work.

Anonymous said...


This seems to go against your own approach which makes you extremely effective. The method outlined in your blog is used by the "shrinks" and it has not worked for me. You are a breath of fresh air with your pragmatic suggestions and ideas. I don't want to pay someone to only listen.

Marty Nemko said...

There's a time for advice-giving and a time for trying to get the idea to come from the client. I use whatever I think is most likely to work at the time with that particular client.


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