Friday, September 6, 2013

Pat me in the back and make me feel good about my decision

A relative called me the other day for advice. She was facing an important decision and asked for my opinion. I started to share my thoughts with her but soon realized that she had already made her mind. She wasn't looking for my advice to help her decide what to do. She was looking for my approval to feel better about her decision.

What to do? Should I call her on it and try to have a proper analysis about her decision, or should I give her the approval that she was looking for? It probably depends on how strongly I feel about her choice. If I think either choice is fine and have no serious issues with her decision, probably best to simply make her feel better about her decision. But if I feel she is making a serious mistake then I should push back and try to change her mind-set into decision making instead of validation. But it is important to do this before getting into the specifics of the decision. I would be wasting my time if I start addressing the issues while in her mind the decision has already been made.

We should also be careful about doing this ourselves (often subconsciously). Are we really looking for advice or have we made our minds and just want approval or something else? Nothing wrong with seeking approval, but probably best to be explicit about it, i.e., I just decided to do X, do you think I made the right choice? As opposed to help me decide whether to do X or Y, when in reality you already decided to do X.

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