trust

Why Personal Advice from Friends and Family Is Often Biased

post by, VanCityLifeCoach.com

Advice

As a Relationship and Life Coach, guiding others is a job I find incredibly fulfilling and I’m always eager to support my clients. I coach passionately and as a result, what I do has sewn itself into my identity and has become a part of who I am. As this becomes more evident, I’ve noticed more people within my personal network are coming to me for advice, albeit their intention or not.

It’s difficult for me to ‘switch off’ from what I call “Coaching Mode”. I’m often like a child who has discovered something new about themselves and I’m eager to share it with everyone I run into. Therefore it can get difficult leaving “The Coach” behind, when connecting/reconnecting with people within my personal network.

Think about the number of times friends and family have come to you seeking your advice or opinion. Now, for instance, think about the number of times you’ve had to lie or bend the truth in order to protect their feelings.

Before stumbling onto this path, I never had an issue with saying and doing the appropriate thing in order to protect the people I care for from getting hurt. However, what I’ve learnt about myself and other people through my work and professional experiences, the appropriate thing to say and do, isn’t necessarily the right thing to say and do. It’s a fine line that I’ve become weary of in recent years, as I continue to connect with people in my personal network both past and present.

As a coach, I’m hired to give my honest and professional opinion. I’ve been hired for a specific reason and to achieve results, complete, and sometimes brutal honesty is required at all times. As a neutral party, my only concern is the well-being of my client and his/her actual responsibilities. However, in my personal network, whereby I’m emotionally tethered, maintaining neutrality is very difficult. In some circumstances where I’m asked for advice, support, guidance or even just an opinion, I find myself facing the following dilemmas:

Do I, a. Compromise my work and what I know and do well, just to keep those nearby happy and content? Or, b. Advise with complete integrity and run the risk of stirring up conflict within my personal network?

I’ve learnt that the answer to either question often depends on how I’m regarded among those close to me. For instance, to my parents, as their youngest child, I’m still very much the “baby” in their eyes. Fortunately my clients don’t see me that way, otherwise I’d make a terrible coach, however this entire adjustment has made me aware of two prominent biases that arise when advising friends and family. Biases we should all be aware of when seeking or giving advice.

Bias #1: Personal Gain.

Most of us probably won’t admit it, but we run the risk of advising friends and family based on personal gain. Or, to avoid the perception of personal gain and potential blame and conflict, we also run the risk of sharing biased advice.

It’s often difficult to offer an unbiased perspective when we’re personally involved. For example, think about the people in your life today and how convenient it would be for you, if they changed certain aspects of their lives? Changes although convenient for you, could result it disastrous consequences for them.

Personal gain is something to be very aware of with advice you offer or receive, as there are a number of ‘sub-biases’ that can lead to erroneous advice. Biases such as: personal insecurity, strength of relationship, trust and access to multiple connections within the same personal network, are to name a few.

Bias #2: Nondisclosure.

Full disclosure is important when seeking or offering advice. It’s important for the advisor to develop a complete awareness of the problem or dilemma and it’s the responsibility of those being advised, to make the advisor fully aware. Therefore, complete honesty and openness is required in order to understand and to be fully understood.

If you feel restricted or reluctant in any way, then already you’re adding layers of bias to advice. For example, think about asking your parents about relationship advice, but leaving out all the intimate details of your desires, because it feels too inappropriate or awkward to discuss. Again many of the ‘sub-biases’ that arise with personal gain are also relevant here too, especially when sharing advice among an established peer group.

In conclusion, to avoid, or at least limit bias when exchanging advice with friends and family, both parties must learn how to emotionally detach in order to establish mutual understanding. However, keep in mind that you also run the risk of jeopardising the personal connection too, because once something is shared, it cannot be taken back, and you have to rely on and preserve trust in order to maintain the relationship.

Therefore in summary, establish authentic trust before seeking or giving advice and be aware of these prominent biases.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

Relationships: The Importance of Unveiling Your Past

Separated Yin Yang

Your life up until this point; the identity you live with today, is a collection of your experiences, everything you have learned and traits that you may have inherited. Part of being in a relationship is sharing your life with another, therefore it’s important to share your past with your partner.

For one, knowing that you’ve truly bared all is extremely liberating. Knowing that you have nothing to hide makes for an uncomplicated relationship that’s not only built on trust, but built on honesty too.

These two values are crucial, if you desire the components that make up a powerful partnership that carries on throughout the rest of your life.

Furthermore, knowing that there’s nothing left to uncover, allows you to be easily understood.

When I coach couples, I ask very tough questions in order to expose an honesty that someone perhaps lives with, but has not yet shared. I ask difficult questions because it indicates how well a couple communicate and how well people actually understand each other.

When you share your past with your significant other, you’re sharing information that is essential towards keeping your relationship alive. First of all, your partner won’t be spending their lifetime trying to figure you out, that alone can cause complications and insecurities.

Your past reveals your motivations and it reveals your emotional triggers, so just think about how this information can elevate bliss and happiness within your relationship. Teach your partner about the person you are, educate them on your past so that together you can have a mindful future.

The beautiful thing about letting your past out, is that you let it go. If there is a part of you that you haven’t shared with your significant other, then already you’ve begun to diminish core values. And if there are problems at the very core, the effect is felt at the surface (i.e. you’ll find yourself disagreeing and placing significance over smaller, less important issues, more frequently).

Revealing your past also allows you to remain present.

People always argue that if you reveal too much you leave nothing left to uncover, that there’s an excitement to the mystery. I agree, and that’s great at the very beginning of a relationship…a lot of the excitement when starting something new, comes from discovering new things. However, as you begin to understand each other and connect, excitement generates from exploring life as you move your relationship forward. From the mystery of exploring each other’s potential and embarking on parallel journeys towards self-actualization.

You may fear judgment and loss as a result of the information you share, but the whole point of sharing your life with someone, is that you have someone that accepts your identity completely and vice versa.

Society put’s on a lot of pressure and expects you to live up to certain ideologies: to get married at a certain age, start a family, fill a home with memories and beautiful things that elevate their image of perfection and bliss. This motivation is corrosive to your identity and this pressure may force you down avenues you’re not ready for.

A relationship is about the elevation of spirit; to experience nirvana and to engage you in fulfilling your purpose. You won’t get that until you give yourself completely. All the other things that you progress into (i.e. the home, the family etc.) merely become extensions of a growing relationship, not the definition of one.

Lastly and most importantly, sharing your past allows you to communicate confidently. It lessens the impact of misinterpretation and allows you to remain honest and maintain trust.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach