My Advice? No Advice!

Trying to be helpful and giving advice are really ways to control others.

Advice is a conversation stopper.In community building, we want to substitute curiosity for advice.

No call to action. No asking what they are going to do about it. Do not tell people how you handled the same concern in the past. Do not ask questions that have advice hidden in them, such as "Have you ever thought of talking to the person directly?"

The request for advice is how we surrender our sovereignty.

If we give in to this request, we have, in this small instance, affirmed their servitude, their belief that they do not have the capacity to create the world from their own resources; and more important, we have supported their escape from their own freedom.

The goal is to replace advice with curiosity. The future hinges on this issue. Advice, recommendations, and obvious actions are exactly what increase the likelihood that tomorrow will be just like yesterday.

[Peter Block]
Community, p.109

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Only through experience do we become aware of the inflexibility of other people's characters, and till then we childishly believe that we could succeed by representations of reason, by entreaties and prayers, by example and noble-mindedness, in making a man abandon his own way, change his mode of conduct, depart from his way of thinking, or even increase his abilities; it is the same, too, with ourselves.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, p.304

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2 comments:

  1. Freud recommended that:

    The doctor should be opaque to his patients and, like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him.

    Freud warns against didacticism: against recommending reading matter to the patient, and against trying to direct the liberated patient into new paths which the analyst thinks he should follow.

    [...] handing out unsolicited advice is patronizing, and therefore denigrating to the patient as an autonomous individual.

    [Anthony Storr]
    Freud, p.98

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  2. I cannot presume to pass judgement on his final decisions, because I know from experience that all coercion - be it suggestion, insinuation, or any other method of persuasion - ultimately proves to be nothing but an obstacle to the highest and most decisive experience of all, which is to be alone with his own self, or whatever else one chooses to call the objectivity of the psyche.

    The patient must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation.

    [Carl Jung]
    The Essential Jung, p.277

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