What if a member says “Just tell me what to do!”

A member showed up at a recent Forum meeting distraught over a major company reorganization and asked to present.  He told the group, “I don’t want to hear your experience, just tell me what to do!”  In other words, he wanted the group to violate the language protocol and give advice.

In this case, the Forum held to its normal mode and encouraged the presenter to listen to experience first.  In the end, the presenter said: “That was really helpful.  Thank you for not allowing me to be the victim, expecting to be rescued by all of you.  You have empowered me to go address the issue myself.”

Keep in mind that in many situations, it’s a lot easier for the advice giver to give the advice, than for the person with the problem to act on it.  Giving advice can actually make it harder for the person with the issue because they can feel trapped, judged, pressured to do something they are not ready or able to do yet.

In other cases, some members may feel at the end of a presentation that they were not helpful (because they shared experience, and didn’t give advice).  This perception may or may not be accurate from the perspective of the presenter.  Therefore, it’s always a reasonable question to ask at the end of any presentation: “Were we helpful to you?”

Bob Halperin

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