Through the years, I’ve given lots of free advice. I’m beginning to realize that’s been a very bad character trait.
» Advice — the wise don’t need it and the fools won’t heed it.
» Free — the perception of something worth nothing.
So, this week, when I said “No, thanks,” to an opportunity of continuing in my tradition of offering free advice, the response was enlightening. Well, I was enlightened. The person making the request was shocked. They were shocked that I would, could, should, and did say, “No.”
We Get What We Allow
Engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship (two-way street of offering and receiving) is different from demanding a response (one-way street of taking).
We get what we allow. For years, my immaturity was assuaged by giving free advice. The act of giving appeared noble and it made me feel like a hero. After all, Trusted Business Advisor was, at one time, the moniker of the CPA profession.
There is a very fine line, though, between an act of commerce and codependency. Commerce recognizes “Yes and No” as the two sides of the same coin. Codependency is defined as doing for others what they could, should, and would do for themselves, if we simply said “No.”
In fact, this most recent request for free advice was related to purely business matters. The resources for the answers to this new series of questions had already been given in response to an earlier request.
While my earlier gift of free advice was taken with no expression of appreciation, my offer to provide Advisory Services for a fee was berated and ignored.
Never give Advice —
The wise don’t need it,
and the fools won’t heed it.
The individual asking for advice has every right to express their choice to do nothing by saying, “No, thanks.” Freely offered and freely rejected. That’s the way commerce works. Change nothing — Nothing changes.
However, a price is paid for everything. To choose This, we forego That. Every thought and every action involves some measure of time or money. Asking anything of anybody involves either an act of commerce (exchange of money) or sacrifice (offering of time).
Regardless of the relationship, giving respect to the person responding to our request is a valuable courtesy and currency.
Asking is more than OK — It is our responsibility to ASK.
There is a price to be paid. Are we willing to participate in the payment of the price (commerce), or do we expect something for nothing (sacrifice)?
As for me, I’ll continue to engage in commerce and sacrifice.
I will choose, though, which it is.