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57. Offering advice like Staffan Rosenberg

I get a lot of advice from people. Some of it asked for, but most of it “spontaneous”. Mostly from friends, but also from strangers. On how to do larps, how to run a company, how to be in a marriage, how to do talks, and so on. You get the picture.

Some of it is useful (sometimes extremely so), and some of it isn’t. That’s all well and good, but sometimes I’d love to be able to school people on how to give advice. That’s not easy, though, because advice is tricky.

And not everyone is like Staffan Rosenberg.

If you don’t know him, one thing that’s wonderful about Staffan is that he is able to give advice and see it ignored without feeling bad about it. After a big larp event, he had some feedback for us, and he presented it, saying something like this:

“Here are my thoughts on what you could improve. However, it’s your decision, this is just input. Also, I know that I don’t have the full picture, so even if something seems like an obvious fix to me, it may not actually be one. Here are my points.”

I loved it!

Here was expert-level feedback/advice, and there was no expectation that it was used. It was freely given and no obligation was attached to it. Magnificent.

I’ve written something about criticism before, but this is not just that. This is about advice in general. And I’d love it if there were more Staffans out there, and that people did the following:

  • Ask before giving advice. Sometimes it’s not wanted. For whatever reason.
  • Don’t expect your advice to be followed, and especially…
  • Don’t get annoyed if it isn’t!
  • Remember that freely given advice is not a transaction.
  • If someone asks you for advice, it’s different. But you can’t both give someone advice AND decide on its value. It doesn’t work that way. ;)
  • Be honest, but kind. People are people.

So, while this may be obvious and standard procedure to some, I can assure you that isn’t universal. ;-)

But it could be. We could all be a bit more like Staffan. I’d like that.

Written by

Director, The College of Extraordinary Experiences & Coach at McKinsey

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