There was a cartoon I saw many years ago. The picture was of a man playing a piano in what was obviously western saloon. The sign above the piano read: “Don’t shoot the piano player. He’s doing the best he can.”
I have often lamented that the most difficult task I face each day is getting our members to seek out the advice and counsel of other members in the process we call networking.
I don’t know exactly why it is, but for some genetic reason, men don’t like unsolicited advice. And, for those of us who like to give out a lot of advice, it can be a difficult task to make a suggestion and have it actually received as information that is acted upon.
When members call me for advice, I try to stick to the subjects they bring up and want me to address. But, being a “Mr. Know-it-all,” I sometimes can’t help myself from picking up on additional issues that need to be discussed. I know it is a minefield, but I go anyway.
No one is perfect. And, I go into “the valley of death” safe in the knowledge that in the process of extending the hand of friendship, I may very well pull back a bloody stump.
As all of you know, one of my big issues is outgoing signatures. For those of you who have not yet attended my “Mr. Rogers” class on this topic, the purpose of an outgoing signature is to make it possible for those impulsive individuals like myself to actually call or write to you without looking up your contact information when we receive an email from you. (Keep in mind that not everyone has a secret decoder ring as I do, and they may not actually know your phone number or email address off the top of their heads.) So, when members write to me without an outgoing signature, I always write back “May I suggest” rather than “How could you be so silly as to not have.” I guess that’s why I am known as “Gentle Matt.”
I suppose I could refuse to answer anyone who didn’t have an outgoing signature. In the alternate, I could make them stand in the corner or cut off their newsletter for a few days, but I’m not that kind of person.
My personal beliefs about what works best are my personal beliefs. I can try to teach them to others, but as you know, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
What I would like everyone to understand is that everyone knows that men don’t like unsolicited advice. So, the next time someone offers you some information that you didn’t ask to receive, before you bite their heads off, you might want to take a moment to reflect on the bravery involved in them trying to put you back on the path from which you have strayed.
Is it possible you are actually wrong? Well, I’m not going to go that far. But just remember that if you reject someone’s advice out of hand even once, you are not likely to be the recipient of this gift a second time. Hey, I’m a sensitive guy. Appear to deny my well meaning suggestions and I am not likely to take that risk again.
Okay, I’m dumb enough to try again, but I don’t think most folks are.