Unless By Birth, Bonding or Engagement You Are Not Obligated To Give Your Opinion

There are three groups of people that I am obligated to give my opinion to:

  1. My Best Friend
  2. My Family
  3. My Clients

My best friend and I have a rule: the whole truth and nothing but the truth and give it straight and quick.  We get each other’s unabridged full opinion; but that also comes with the unquestionable, unwavering full support.


My family, well, they give me their opinions they get to hear mine.  We are a pretty open, sarcastic bunch and know that all things said are done so with love and support.  We are the type that laugh at the one who walks into the closed sliding glass door – then ask if they are okay.


My clients depend on me for my professional opinion, advice and guidance.  They pay me for this; it is a service to help them get from where they are to where they want to be.  I take every one of my clients on with the understanding that open communication, pushback and skin in the game are required.  They are a part of the process and in return they get the full extent of my attention, expertise and assistance.


Even with the established relationships of love, respect or engagement it does not mean that anyone in the above three groups will head my advice or listen to my opinions.  They also know that the ultimate decision lies with them and is their responsibility.


Given that I try like heck to keep my mouth shut with everyone else.  Networking friends, casual acquaintances, boyfriends, neighbors, or referral partners – just keep it to myself.  I’m not their mother, wife or boss and therefore it is not my job to tell them my personal thoughts on their business.  I am not obligated to give my opinion.  It can cause more damage than it is worth.


I have a dear friend who is a lovely and giving person, genuine, intelligent and an all around great guy.  From our conversations I have gathered that he is in a relationship in which he isn’t happy but he’s old school and a “I gave my word so even if I feel like I’m being drug over hot coals I’ve gotta stick this out” kinda guy.  I’ve listened and made appropriate “I’m listening” noises but have refrained from giving my thoughts on the matter.  When asked I simply say, “you have to do what you feel is best.”  Yes, as non-committal as I can be.  I do this on purpose.


First of all, his personal life is not my personal business.  And I am not a trained therapist.  And it is not my job to scold anyone for their personal decisions.  Except my son, him I can scold.  It doesn’t matter, he doesn’t listen anyway, but he is the only one I can scold.


Second, even though he may share some details I don’t know everything.  Therefore my opinion is based upon less than all the facts.


Lastly, if I were to suggest in any way, shape or form that perhaps the relationship isn’t right for him and he chose to end it and then it blew up in his face I don’t want to be blamed.  I care about my friend but I’m not willing to risk a friendship by giving advice.


Keep this in mind when you have a friend asking you about career advice because their job is their relationship.  You may be well meaning in trying to give them advice, maybe to move on, but if it doesn’t work out you may be blamed.


It is also not your place to judge.  Not all relationships make sense to us.  We can see a couple and think, “How on earth are they together?!” but they are the happiest couple you know.  It is not yours to understand or explain.  Nor is it your place to make the determination if someone is in a wrong job or relationship.


I worked for a manager that, according to pretty much everyone else, was a total and complete ass – demanding, cold, unrelenting and uncommunicative.  I must have been the odd man out because we formed a very cohesive working relationship.  When others would ask me how I just told them we figured out what worked for the other and we have the same goal in mind.  It just worked.  Period.


Sometimes the best advice you can give someone looking for advice is to “do what is best for you.”  Non-committal and non judgmental.  I have often found that many times those looking for advice are actually looking for a reason without taking responsibility.


If they want to leave a job or relationship but don’t have the stones to do it for themselves they will solicit advice from others until they get the “green light” to leave.  That way if it blows up in their face they can go back and blame the advice-giver.  Saying things like, “I didn’t want to leave but you said I should.”


It is a dangerous game and one you do not want to be a part of – trust me!


If they continue to push for you to give a stance one way or another that is the time that you can gently introduce the idea of a professional.  If it is a personal relationship maybe a therapist can help them sort out some issues they are struggling with; if it is a professional relationship perhaps a coach can help them see the bigger picture.


This is the time to direct them to someone that they can pay to get professional assistance.  It doesn’t mean they will listen to it, but it could save your friendship.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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