A quick word on clarifying and silence.

I don’t give advice. I won’t go so far as to say I’ve never given suggestions or answered specific questions  (should I wear this dress or that one?), but life questions and, “here’s what you should do” stuff? No.

I’ve always been of the impression that I can’t tell you how to live your life, I can only offer you my perspective on how I might handle a similar situation. But it’s what I might do, not what you should do. And since it’s not about me – it’s about you, I turn the spotlight in the other direction and offer up a mirror besides.

My goal is to help you clarify your positioning to the topic/question/dilemma at hand, as well as your options and potential consequences. Clarifying, I can help you with; but deciding? That’s up to you. Our life is our best teacher. My wish is that we all become better learners.

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.
~Gloria Naylor

4 Replies to “A quick word on clarifying and silence.”

  1. This is a very good perspective. I am the worst at letting people I love make mistakes and just live their lives. Your approach to giving advice (or rather, not giving advice) makes me think of interactions I’ve had with friends who are therapists. Their professional training makes them good friends.

  2. This is difficult for me. I tend to give unsolicited advice. I will admit that it comes from a place of love and a place of honesty.

    I hated hearing, “Well, no one told me.”

    I can honestly say that you know I told you.

    A buddy is getting married. I have the talk. Are you sure? Why? You can back out still. It’s ok.

    A friend is in crappy relationship. Why not leave? Is it that important what people think? What lesson are you teaching your kids?

    I am, more or less, the devil’s advocate. I try to get it down to the truth. Sometimes it is painful and sometimes it is shameful. Either way, it is true.

    Do I want to hear many years down the road, “Why didn’t you warn me?” or “Why didn’t you say something?”

    I did. I do. I will.

    I do it to put that responsibility on my friend’s shoulders. It is a way to discuss the fears and the anchors and the obstacles. It is what I do.

    I try not to give advice. I try really hard. In the end, my need to shove responsibility where it belongs, wins.

    I wish I could be less of that.

    1. I tend to ask open-ended questions. “How do you feel about that?” I open the door for a conversation, if they want to have it, but I don’t initiate it. Now there are times when it seems important for someone to know something (that’s not really advice-giving), and at those times I ask permission first. “Is it okay if I give you feedback about thus and such?” Something like that.

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