Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Know Best! (The Stark Truth About Giving Advice, Sought Or Not)

Did I even ask?
Hannah Whitall Smith*, founder of Woman's Christian Temperance Union, late 19th and early 20th century, said, "The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.

Sounds good on paper. But most of us are indeed offended if the person we've advised either does not take our advice or lets it go right over their heads without even considering it. After all, we took the time to share our words of wisdom and the bloody bloke insulted us by saying "No thanks." How could he/she/they? We have shared a piece of ourselves with them. The least they could do is to pay attention. But no. They just do what they want to do, anyway. Complete ingrates.

Considering that, are you a wise enough person to receive the wisdom of Smith's quote, that is, her advice? Or are you still insistent that when you give advice, it's important the other person or persons take it, run with it, use it or else? Do you take it personally when someone does not take your advice to heart? Be honest. Sometimes you think you know something, don't you? And since you know it, the other person should reap the benebit of your wisdom. Right?

You could just shut up, you know. Advice is often the least appreciated form of communication, even when sought. So, remembering that, I will let this bit of wisdom sail off into the universe, land where it will, and not worry about who likes it or who doesn't.

I'll close with a bit of info from educator Rabbi Uzi Weingarten who says that the best way to give adivce is to first, listen. Then ask permission. Finally, if it's OK, offer it without insistence. Sound advice, Rabbi.

*Even Smith's advice should be taken with a grain of salt. G. Richard Fisher, writer for The Quarterly Journal and board member of Personal Freedom Outreach, wrote,"A biography of Smith points out that she herself never lived the happy life she wrote about. Marie Henry's 'The Secret Life of Hannah Whitall Smith' takes the reader behind the scenes and, in an honest fashion that doesn't set out to be unflattering, exposes a Hannah Whitall Smith who was as flawed as anyone. Henry's interesting and readable book makes Hannah Whitall Smith's life a secret no longer." Having never read anything by Smith, other than a few quotes, I will also take both Fisher's and Henry's claims about Smith with a grain of salt as well. Seems no matter who gives it, writes it, shares it, advice is open to all kinds of interpretation, don't you think? Final word: Caution.

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