Vroom! July 2022

You are currently viewing Vroom! July 2022
© pLink Leadership | www.pLinkLeadership.com
Rebecca Tillemans - Senior Executive Coach
Senior Leadership Coach

“‘Kindly let me help you or you’ll drown,’ said the monkey putting the fish safely up a tree.”

I was recently reminded of this Alan Watts quote after telling a colleague about some stress I was feeling. This well-intentioned and intelligent person responded by telling me what I should do. I knew that those things were not what I needed – and I hadn’t asked him for advice. I felt myself withdrawing from the conversation.

In the best of times, unsolicited advice is slightly condescending, and most of us can take it (or leave it) gracefully. When stress is on the scene though, it can be rather damaging. We are not the expert on others’ experiences, and unless they’ve invited advice, it’s impossible to tell someone else what to do without introducing a power dynamic. When people are under stress, unsolicited advice drives disconnection and the disempowerment of others.

  • If we make the mistake that the monkey did with the fish, we risk missing essential information and undermining the internal wisdom of others.
  • To allow others to be the experts of themselves, we have to release the belief that we have the right answers – this requires tolerating the vulnerability of not knowing and being with the person’s uncertainty.
  • The impulse to go into fix-your-problems-with-my-answers mode is within all of us, especially leaders who attach their value to “having the answers” – so recognize the impulse and use it as a reminder to check in with the other person, rather than proceeding with giving advice without permission.  
  • When advice is requested, begin by asking what they’ve tried already, then proceed by holding suggestions lightly to ensure that respect for the other person’s autonomy is held high. This drives connection and allows people to identify their solutions from an empowered place.

© pLink Leadership | www.pLinkLeadership.com

Want Vroom! to come to you? Subscribe to our email list to receive insights, practical wisdom, and unique opportunities delivered straight to your inbox.

* indicates required

Rebecca Tillemans

As a Senior Leadership Coach at pLink Leadership, Rebecca Tillemans coaches, facilitates, and consults to build connectivity. The clarity that results from her work with individuals, teams, and organizations hones guiding visions for positive growth. She makes her home in Columbia, MD, with her daughter, son, and spouse.