You know what you should do?

Years ago, I would often say, “you know what you should do?” followed by some suggestion. When I started reading various things in the, “having skin in the game,” vein, I realized how useless—annoying even—my suggestion were. (For example, to a cafĂ© owner, “you know what you should have on the menu?” is not going to be useful.) Over time I came to understand that it’s only in areas where one has deep knowledge are suggestions going to have any chance of being useful. (Don’t confuse that with observations—”the door to your bathroom is broken,” is definitely useful to that cafĂ© owner.) By paying close attention to when I heard myself say, “you know what you should do,” I slowly learned to keep such comments to myself.

Aside: I wedged in a new behavior, as a sort of software interrupt. When I feel the urge to say such things, instead I find a compliment, swap out that text, and then resume speaking. If you’ve ever heard me seemingly-randomly whip out a compliment—to a waiter, to a shop keeper, a manager—that’s often, (but not always,) what just happened.

Unfortunately, although I made great strides in reducing the advice-giving all I’ve actually done is narrowed the area where I give advice. In too many instances I’m still trying to exert my influence. Then when things invariably, (since it’s not my thing it’s someone else’s that I’m giving advice about,) don’t turn out as I wanted I get frustrated. Go figure.

Note to self: Continue to root out the urge to exert influence.

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