Life rules…#1

Life rule #1 – Don’t share your opinion unless asked…Live a life that people ask 

I was out to dinner with a few friends the other day at a restaurant, I frequent probably too much.  I have formed a pretty good relationship with a few of the waiters and waitresses and at this particular time Julia was serving us.  She looked a little down when she came to the table and so I asked her how she was doing.  Julia responded with the typical I am fine and proceeded to take our drinks order.  

I have had several conversations with Julia and I know her pretty well and I knew everything wasn’t ok.  So when she brought our drinks out I looked her in the eye and said, “What going on Julia?”  She then began to share that she was having man problems and told us the story for a few minutes.  

I told her, “I am sorry to hear that Julia, you deserve so much better than that.”  And then it happened.  That moment that I dread so deeply.  Someone that I was with decided to give Julia their opinion on the subject in the guise of “advice.”

I see this happen all the time.  Inevitably, in so many conversations, someone will share an issue and the immediate response is for someone to jump in and share their opinion in the guise of advice for the person with an issue.  I don’t know that I completely know the reason why but we have this innate need to insert our opinion into the conversation.  Here is the problem I have seen is that people don’t want your opinion or advice unless they have asked for it.

I remember watching Julia as the person I am out to dinner with begins to give her advice on her dating life…a person Julia has never met I should add.  Julia’s face said it all.  She was not interested in this person’s advice or their opinion in general.  The words literally went in one ear and out the other.  

The problem with advice or our opinion is basically no one cares unless they have asked for that advice directly.  The reason they will ask you for your advice is if they trust you and you have taken the time to build a relationship so they come to a point where they value your opinion.  

I have an acquaintance we will call George and he loves to share his opinion with people.  He will tell you his opinion on anything and everything.  In fact, George will go so far to argue his opinion in the light of overwhelming evidence that his opinion is completely and utterly inaccurate.  George has actually become a laughing stock amongst the people that know him as soon as he opens his mouth.  I fee bad for George but he just can’t not share his opinion because he feels like he knows best on every little thing.  

Life rule #1 for me is don’t share your opinion unless asked…but live a life that people inevitably ask you for it.

I want to be the kind of person that focuses on building trust and relationships with people rather than constantly walking around offering my opinion to others.  The more you talk the less people listen and the less they value the words that you have to offer.  I want to live a life that says less but the words count for something.  

The aim of discussion, should not be victory, but progress. Joseph Joubert