In the past few years, we have been asked this question by CEO’s, VP’s, Board members, managers, various clients in a wide-range of roles and also clients wondering about how to give input to a partner, child or friend.
Offering one’s wisdom is a bit of an art. Most of us have had the experience of someone offering us his or her wisdom and doing so as if it’s The Truth. They are certain of what they know and confident that others should know better. Unfortunately, being offered wisdom as a proclamation of TRUTH usually leads us to discount it before we’ve heard the full content.
Learning how to offer your wisdom in a way that can be heard by the person you are sharing it with is a critical skill for leaders, professionals, parents and friends. We have identified 5 things to consider before you offer your wisdom that may help you be better understood:
- Wisdom is best shared when it’s in context. Spend a few moments describing the context of how you learned this wisdom. In other words, share your back-story.
- Wisdom feels like a gift when you explain that you don’t know if this is valuable but you’d like your audience to not have to go through what you endured to learn this wisdom.
- Share the wisdom in dialogue – don’t proclaim. Share what you learned, ask what their thoughts are, share a bit more, listen to their reactions, etc.
- Share the ways that the wisdom of others has been a gift to you and how you’re hoping that is true for them.
- Assure the listener that you trust they will take this wisdom and integrate it in a way that is meaningful for them and that you assume it will be different than the way it’s meaningful for you.
We all have many opportunities to share our wisdom and doing so can be a significant gift for the listener. But in sharing your wisdom, be prepared that your listener may not find it as meaningful as you hoped. Honor their reaction and know that your words may come back to them as they move through their lives.