Friday, August 22, 2008

Offer advice with love, respect

From TODAY, Voices
Thursday August 21, 2008

By Dr James Dobson

When you want to offer advice to a person about a flaw or a shortcoming in his or her character, it’s best to do it the way porcupines make love: very, very carefully.

It’s often difficult to open the eyes of friends or relatives to their own blind spots. It’s even more risky to discuss a mistake in the way parenting responsibilities are being handled. You’re liable to get your ears pinned back, even when your motives are honourable and you have the other person’s interest at heart. Let me offer a suggestion that may be helpful in handling this delicate assignment. The right to criticise must be earned, even if the advice is constructive and desperately needed. Before you’re entitled to meddle with another person’s self-esteem, you must first demonstrate your respect for him as a person. You have to invest some time and effort in his life in an atmosphere of love and kindness, and human warmth.

When a relationship of confidence has been carefully constructed, you’ll have then earned the right to discuss a potentially threatening topic. Once motives have been clarified, you can then feed your suggestions and criticism in very small doses. But as you do it, it’s wise to keep one other thing in mind: someone, somewhere, would like to straighten out a few of your flaws too.
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