Advice Shuts People Down. Stories Open People Up.

I find myself listening to Donald Miller’s podcast in which he plays an interview between guest correspondent Allison Trowbridge and Gina Bianchini, the founder and CEO of Mighty Networks and a pioneer in online community building.

I’m learning all about building online communities, listening away with ease. And then Bianchini says something life-changing. As she’s talking about how people are motivated to come together to share “stories, experiences and ideas” she quickly inserts, “and typically not advice, actually. Advice shuts conversation down, whereas stories, experiences and ideas dramatically expand [conversation.]”

Her words ring true. I know that, in my own life recently, when others spout off advice, I shut down. There’s nothing more to say. But if you tell me a story or share an idea? I’m open. I’m wide open. I think deeply about what it means to stop offering advice all the time. I’d rather someone share a story, and experience, or an idea about their own parenting of teens, for example, than list out all the things they think I should do in an advice-giving sort of way. When I come to friends when I’m in pain, it never feels good for someone to say, “Well, just do this and that. Here’s my advice. There you go.” What I want is for something to say, “I’ve been there. Here’s what happened to me. Here’s an idea I’m thinking about. What do you think?”

Advice shuts us down. Stories open us up.

Advice shuts conversation down, whereas stories, experiences and ideas dramatically expand it. Click To Tweet
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