Advice – Easy to Give, Hard To Take?

We are all, at some time or another, in a position to both give and receive advice.

Both ends question-mark-1026526_640of that conversation can be fraught with difficulties and objections.

Over the weekend I was mulling over an issue I had at work. I am definitely someone who has to remind myself to compartmentalise on occasion, as worries at work can otherwise disturb time with my loved ones and vital moments when I should be switching off and recharging my batteries!

I was discussing my dilemma with my partner and he gave me the solution or action that he would take, yet pointed out that it was all very easy to give advice, which was generally ignored by the person who actually had to take the action as they already had their own individual ways to work through a problem and communicate with others. We laughed at how much easier it always was to see (or imagine we can see) exactly how to solve someone else’s problems.

This morning I was hard at work in my office when there was a knock on the door. I opened it to admit a somewhat tearful friend of my son’s who had an urgent dilemma and really seemed in need of some good advice. The first thing I did was to discover what she saw as the problem, what she had tried to do to solve it so far and what she now saw as her available options. Generally speaking, as was the case this time, there are more avenues to go down than there first appear to be. We talked through some of these and I reassured her that in my experience at least, honesty is the best policy and will often disarm even the angriest of detractors. With further encouragement from her friend (my son), this gave her the courage to decide how to respond. Happy (but still tearful) hugs ensued when the problem was resolved.

Today I talked to a colleague and discussed my options again. When I arrived at a solution to my own problem, he made the comment that I had actually known all along what the best thing was to do. I realise that this is true but also acknowledge how helpful both those conversations – one with my partner and one with my colleague- were in allowing me the courage of my convictions and the spur to take action.

So is it pointless to give advice? Absolutely not, just as it’s always worth listening to someone else’s proffered solution, even if you choose your own course of action. As a coach, as a friend and most especially as a parent, I believe that it is possible to help when called upon for advice – but that this help should encompass being a sounding board and asking the right questions, then giving the support and encouragement so that the person in question can make their own decisions. Today I’d urge you not to feel helpless when someone asks for advice, but to embrace the opportunity in assisting in their decision-making process. And when someone gives you advice: don’t reject it out of hand, nor mindlessly follow it but use it as a starting point for finding the decision that you knew all along.single mum's survival guide logo

Sneak a Bit Of Me Time

When I spoke to single mums for my book, one of the topics we covered was the importance of having a break, getting some “me time”. One lady made the point that there was no chance of respite for her, as there was nobody to take over. If that applies to you, you may just need to be creative and snatch a few moments when you can. It may be that your child goes to school or nursery for at least some of the day (or if they are not old enough yet, it may be that you can offer to look after someone else’s child for an hour or two, in exchange for a return favour of some adult time another day for you). There may not be enough time to do much more than grab a quick coffee with a couple of friends. Today I had a busy day of meetings but I had a couple of hours in between other appointments and an invitation to join three of my girlfriends for a cup of tea and a catch-up. Yes, I could have come home instead and got on with some admin work and yes, it meant that I just had to catch up on that once I’d cooked the boys their supper and walked the dog – but I’m still glad I did. A couple of hours of sharing stories of our children and catching up on everyone’s news and I felt like a new woman. There’s nothing more restorative than spending time with people who like you, understand you and want only good things for you. Then you’ll be ready to conquer the world – and single motherhood – all over again!

My book, “THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up The Pieces and Build a Happy New Life” is available now on Amazon and will be out in all good book shops on 1st July. Visit my website: http:// http://www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com