Bruce Peters – Wise advice – on giving no advice


Recently, spurred by my friend Bruce Peters, I wrote: “Give no advice“.

Bruce then wrote a follow-up and I feel to share his wisdom, reproduced below.

Some advice bears repeating and accentuating (and yes, I get the irony!).

From Bruce Peters:

Re: “No Advice” Post

This past week I exchanged email with my colleague and friend, Tom McCallum on the general topic of advice giving. The working theme of the post, the catalyst for the exchange, was about giving “less advice”.

Totally unknown to Tom, several days prior to this post he had written a couple of other posts describing the advice he had provided to clients. This raised my shackles about the efficacy of advice in any form. I had started to bring up the issue a couple of times with Tom but failed to do so. Voila! Synchronicity, coincidence or serendipity took over and Tom wrote “Give less advice.”

I, of course, was stimulated to respond with “no advice”. Tom’s follow up post, “Give no advice”, acknowledged mine and the concept. He mentions the Quaker tradition of “questions only” which is exemplified most in “Wisdom Circles” and “Circles of Trust”.
Parker Palmer in his multiple writings and work highlights best the concepts and processes.

These “Circles” are often used in assisting people to work through or resolve life and life direction issues. In a nutshell the underlying belief is that each of us has an inner teacher that is the arbiter of, or has, our own “answer.” But each of us requires the support of the community to discover or uncover their answer.

The circle participants are forbidden to give advice but can contribute only by asking open-ended questions. In a way, the tradition and process teaches that to give advice is to say to a person, “I don’t trust you to get your answer”. The process supports the conclusion that, “I believe in you to have your answer”.

Also published on Medium.