Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Art of Giving advice...

“be so busy improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others”

At first, I thought the hidden meaning of this quote is not to criticize others since we, ourselves also have deficiencies. But is it okay just because we are not perfect we should stop giving advice? Okay, so criticizing is different from giving advice. But most of the time, when we give advice, how can we tell that the other person doesn’t take it as a criticism? The one who is talking would say, I am giving an advice but the one who is listening would sometimes say that they are criticizing. So what about the term “notice”? In Malay we use the popular term, “menegur kesilapan”.

It’s true, how the people perceive our advice or notice depends on how we deliver it. Usually we give notice or advices to people when we feel that their doings pose a problem to ourselves or maybe can give negative effects towards the people around. Honestly, I don’t really like giving advices or notices to people. Maybe it’s because I am not good with negative words (hohoho…).

Giving advices is also important when we feel that the other person should improve on a certain negative values that they own. Most of the time when we give advices or notices, our intention is that so that the other person can improve themselves and become a better person. But how can we deliver it so that they can perceive it so well and absorb it so naturally they will not have even the most superficial of wounds in their hearts?

To tell you the truth, the only One that can give advice or notices so well, that nobody can do it better, softer, harder, clearer, is none other than Allah. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to do anything to help others to improve themselves. What I’m trying to focus here is giving advices or notices to the people we love without hurting them.  There is another degree of giving advice if we want to pass it to a mass of people.

But it is harder to give advice to our close friends or family members that sometimes can be hurt by our criticism. But then again, “be so busy improving, no time for criticizing”… so how do we help them improve by not criticizing, not judging, and not pointing out the negative part? One tip Kak Nabilah told me. Sometimes, it’s not necessary that we point out what is wrong and what is right, but the key to make them realize that they should change should arise from the inside of their hearts. It is more important that we make them understand and feel the need to improve rather than straight away saying that they should change. The key is to implement the fear to Allah, the love towards Allah, the love towards going to heaven and the love of all things good. Make them see the beauty of what is good rather than showing them the ugliness of what the bad things they are doing now. Otherwise, make them feel the fear of doing bad in general, but this should be done in a very creative manner.

Everything that we wish to make others to improve on themselves must be based on the fact that the improvement is that so that Allah will be more pleased with us, not base solely on our individual needs of comfort. When we want others to change for our comfort, it is not likely that Allah’s message will pass through them and it is likely that we are selfish to do so.

So rather than saying, “you should be more punctual at work, if not other people’s work will be affected” why not say “Coming early is great, we have time to settle down, reflect before starting work, and pray that whatever we do will be blessed by Allah. I found that every time I came early for my work I feel happier and guided by Allah. It’s such a great feeling! :D”.

Did you notice? Not only that the words used are all happy words, with no criticism, but at the same time, when we say something good, when we affirm, it’s a like a seed that will grow a beautiful flower. If we have something good that we do, we should always affirm it so that the mind remembers and will express it frequently. If we don’t say it, we are denying it, our mind will not take the good things we do seriously, and therefore we usually will forget about it and will not express it regularly. That’s why it is important to always see the positive side of everything in order to always be able to express happiness in life.

So we are advising by not criticizing, at the same time improving! So its true after all, “be so busy improving that we have not time to criticisize”. There is more than one way to skin a cat right? So why not take a softer and more positive way to do it. It will truly be a win-win situation.

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