Don’t Get Attached To Your Advice

It’s easy to become attached to the advice, feedback, and ideas we give to other people. We’re trying to be helpful, but when the person doesn’t take our suggestions we try to convince them. That’s attachment. Here’s how to share with others with no strings attached. 

A listener to a popular podcast emailed the presenter to let her know that he loved her podcast, but the sound quality wasn’t great. Since he had a technical background, he suggested a couple of ways to improve it. The podcast presenter wrote back and said, “Thanks for your feedback. With over 2 million downloads my audience and I are satisfied with the sound quality.”

The listener wrote again saying it’s a shame that the sound quality doesn’t match her excellent content and to consider improving it. The presenter responded saying she had considered it, liked it as it is, and if he didn’t then he was welcome not to listen any longer.

The listener was disappointed because she wouldn’t receive her feedback. But he was mistaken, she had received his feedback but choose not to follow it.

When we insist someone follow our advice, feedback, or ideas, we give it with attachment. In doing so, we go from being helpful to trying to force the person to do what we suggest. That’s frustrating for both parties.

There’s a better way.

How To Avoid Attachment

To avoid attachment when giving advice, feedback, or ideas, have this attitude, “You can take it, leave it, or modify it. It’s up to you.” Realize from the start that for whatever reason, the other person may not want to follow your suggestion – and be okay with that. Leave the choice with them.

Here’s a 3-step process to share advice, feedback, or ideas without attachment:

  1. Share it briefly. In coaching we try to keep our feedback or observations to one sentence to share. “In the meeting you were quite negative, a more positive approach would be better received.”
  2. Ask how they see it. Follow-up your feedback or observation with a question to engage the person in a discussions. To follow-up the example above, you might ask, “What are you trying to communicate?”
  3. Let it go. It’s up to the other person to do something with your suggestion. That’s his or her choice. And depending on their actions you can choose how to further engage with this person. That’s your choice.

If you find yourself trying to explain, convince, or “push back” then you’re attached.

You may think that the person doesn’t understand your feedback or idea, and that’s why he’s not doing it. After all, if he understood you, he would certainly agree. Right? Not always.

People evaluate their situations based on different criteria than our own. They have their own ideas. And they have their own priorities.

Leave the choice up to the other person. Share your advice, feedback, or ideas without attachment.

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    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    3 thoughts on “Don’t Get Attached To Your Advice

    1. Great advice and I agree. But I do have a question: Often I do not mind if a person takes my advice or not I just want to know I am understood or heard. I am not always the best in getting my thoughts accross ESP in mixed company , male and females. Plus if the person really does not want to consider or thinks from the start you are coming from one direction they stop listening. Any thoughts?

      • Sterling, thanks for your comment. These “what ifs” bring us back to the main point: any feedback we give is to empower the other person. How well we communicate and getting them to listen to us, makes it about us. Attachment – however we justify it – is us making the other person listen or do our feedback. We’re commanding them via our suggestion.

        Of course, there are situations when attachment is okay. Like as a parent or supervisor there will be times when I must insist my feedback is acted on. However, even in these roles, best practice is empowerment, which means giving people a choice where we can.

    2. Excellent writing . Talking of which , if someone has been needing to merge two images , my husband came upon reference here