At a recent conference I attended, I learnt about the monsters that we all, to some degree, let out of their cages on regular occasions. When someone comes to us with a problem, we mutate into one of the three following advice monsters.
First, there’s the Tell It monster. You’ll be able to pick a Tell-It because they thrive the limelight. They love being on stage and having their opinion heard. Tell Its think they know best and often move in packs.
Next, there’s the Save-It monster. This monster convinces you that without your holding everything together, the world would fall apart. The Save-It camouflages itself behind the guise of “being helpful”. Save Its promote a victim mentality in others.
Lastly, there’s the Control-It advice monster. This guy likes to be in charge of everything. He micromanages, tells you that you’re saving everyone from chaos, and at the same time robs every person around you from empowerment.
At this point, if you find yourself curious about which monster rules the roost within your personality, you can take a short quiz and find out here: https://quiz.tryinteract.com/#/5dd031bfe79b1a001446a4d0
You can also read Michael Bungay Stanier’s interview here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2020/05/16/the-advice-trap-michael-bungay-stanier/?sh=7adbb58e21b1
Why do we allow these monsters to take over, knowing that they are, indeed, monsters?
Because they’re alluring.
Being a Tell-It makes you feel valued. You feel like the smartest person in the room. You get things done, and your way.
Being a Save-It gives you the warm and fuzzies. You get a kick out of being a martyr, being the rescuer, saving the day, being the hero.
Being a Control-It puts you firmly in the driver’s seat. It means you know everything, all the time. But it also means you prevent others from ever “learning to drive.”
So how do we tame our monsters? How do we switch from being bossy to being a coach? With three simple steps.
Be lazy, Be curious and Be often.
Being lazy means you allow the person with the issue to have more of a say in how it is overcome. It requires the other person doing more of the thinking than you.
Being curious looks like pausing for a split second longer before launching into diatribes. It means asking more than telling.
Being often is all about quality over quantity. It’s about not allowing waffling and rambling and talking around a point. It’s about choosing to speak with purpose and not impulse. https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/09/26/speaking-with-purpose-not-impulse/ Asking “what’s the real challenge here for you?” and “what do you really want from all of this?”; encouraging the speaker to get to the crux of the issue.
So, the next time someone comes to you as a sounding board, or you find yourself in the position of mentoring or leading others, remember the advice monsters.
Play interference- whack those pesky guys on the head- then be humble and empower others to be the director of their own lives.
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