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“There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice.” – Joseph Addison

Well, this is a great one. Have you ever heard of the law of noninterference? The law dictates that we not give unwanted advice or intrude on someone else without their permission.

I used to be really bad at this. Now, I’m still a little bad, but not as much. Someone would begin talking about a problem and my mind would begin racing to help them with a solution. I give it, the person gets defensive, and it is no longer about their problem that they are sharing. It is now about why they don’t want to use my magnificent solution and how stupid they are for not taking my advice. Have you ever been in this situation?

The best way to help people is by just listening to them. Most of us are smart enough to solve our own problems. In fact, we can typically come up with a pretty good plan to solve a current problem almost as immediately as it arrives in our lap. Give your friends, loved ones, and colleagues some credit. Maybe, they just want to share their problem to get it out there, get it off of their chest, minimize the problem by communicating the problem to someone else. This “unloading” can be quite rewarding psychologically.

So, listen to your friends when they discuss a problem with you. Really listen to them. Don’t rush to a solution and give it to them. They don’t want that. The only time your solution should be provided is if your friend or loved one asks for it. Then you are free to provide whatever help you can. You can do this because they’ve invited you in. Anything else and you violate the Law of Noninterference and step all over your friend or loved one’s feelings.

If they want your help, they will ask.

Until next time…