I was going to write a post about Know-It-Alls, but found a post on another blog that said lots of what I wanted to say. Here is an excerpt from what Sue Rock calls Open Letter to Little Miss Know-It-All.
“It’s easy to look down on life from a high, I-got-it-all-figured-out horse; to judge others and pass out advice like you know everything (which of course, you clearly do). You’ve got it all figured out, right…If we’re really, really lucky, we find people along the way who are willing to help us find our own answers, instead of always trying to give us theirs.”
There are many reasons I ponder this subject about advice-giving and the attitude of pretending to know it all.
My calling in life is definitely about relationships, and home as well as work gives ample opportunity to hone my communication skills. I spend lots of time one-to-one with clients discussing life issues. I’m always studying, writing, and reading about effective communication. Right now my husband and I are reading Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt’s book: Getting the Love You Want. And, I have four adult children and a son-in-law who all provide ample opportunity to listen and learn.
I partially attribute my obsession with the workings of relationships to my dear mom for going back to school as a psychology student during my formative years. Actually, I think it may go back even further to the frustration of the demise of intimate relationships in my family of origin and my drive to “fix” those ties through helping others.
But instead of having all the answers, I have questions I’d like to ask:
- What drives people to put on the façade that they know it all?
This question may strike at the heart of the issue. When I slip into this behavior, or observe other people doing it, I think, “Is this an over-compensation for feelings of inadequacy? Are they trying to solve their own problems by attempting to fix others?”
- Do people really know how to listen?
It takes time and deliberate intention to really listen. If I respond before I am clear about the message sent, I am really just responding to my own thoughts, and this could spell trouble. This is where projection can happen.
- If your prime directive in life is to solve your own problems, is listening to others even important?
What value do you place to being there for others, sacrificially, selflessly? I’ve found that in giving I receive.
- Do you really have the answers for someone else? Have you walked in their shoes? Do you know all the nuances of their situation and history?
Questions, really smart ones, can help people discover their own answers. I believe change is only possible when people take ownership of their problems. You may be so caring and loving that by giving your opinions about their issues, you actually disable the very people you’re tying to help, preventing them from finding a solution by taking what’s theirs and making it yours.
- And finally, have you ever really felt “heard”?
It can be frustrating to come from a place of not really feeling understood, validated, or empathized with. I’ve found that the business of growing up, healing, and knowing yourself is an arduous journey that is very personal. There is a time and a place to do this work, and there is also a time and place to just listen, question, and be with others in their journey.
Some people are listeners by nature and struggle instead with doing the personal work that is theirs. Somehow escaping into someone else’s problems seems easier for them than looking within.
Whichever camp or end of the spectrum you find yourself in most often, either being too introspective or too other-focused and living in a state of denial about your own issues, the simple question to be ever mindful of remains the same:
What is mine and what is not?
See you at the spa!