Chief Advice Officers


To take any kind of committed action, people need to think through for themselves. ~ David Rock

The more I read about how human beings think, make decisions and take actions the more I get fascinated with the art of listening and probing. When we have conversations, it is so natural for us to give advice to someone’s predicaments and challenges. We act like Chief Advice Officers (CAOs) and assume that people are yearning for our solutions & suggestions to their problems. Do you think people will listen to your ideas and change? If so, obesity will be vanished from our planet [or any such problem for which everyone knows the solution]. It’s not about knowing, it’s about doing what we know!

It appears to me that we pretend to listen and prepare our advice while other people are talking to us. While you are reading this article, you might be thinking that you are different and you don’t wear a CAO hat when you talk to people.

Why don’t you try this out and explore your own behavior? Here is the exercise that you can try.

Whenever you have a conversation with someone at workplace or home, notice what you do when the other person shares his/her problems [perceived predicaments]. Notice your tendency to interrupt and start giving advice or asking leading questions to impose your judgments. Initially you will actually realize this after giving the advice; and you will gradually stop offering unsolicited advice to people. Instead of giving ideas, see if you can ask questions to know about their thinking, values and beliefs. Behavior is the fruit; thinking is the root.

I started noticing my tendency to advise and show my knowledge this year. I was astonished to hear my lectures to people’s problems and their indifference to my ideas [as they didn’t follow my preaching]. In a matter few weeks my propensity to solve others’ problems reduced and I became a better listener probing more about people’s thinking.

I strongly recommend you to try this exercise and see a sea change in your ability to connect with people around you. When you listen, you show that you are interested in others – that’s the key any human interaction.

If you like this article, please read Quiet Leadership by David Rock to know more about this topic and try additional exercises recommended in his book.

PS : I acknowledge the pictures from the internet.

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