“If I Were You”

The phrase “If I were you..” at least in how we use it, is inherently flawed.

There’s a built-in sense of certainty and knowing what it’s like to be in someone else’s situation. But we’re usually doing more of a make-believe act than really being empathetic. We’re considering what it would be like for ourselves to be in that situation, rather than diving deep into not only being in the other party’s situation, but also having the resources, knowledge, network, trauma, and experience of the other person.

“If I were you, I’d get a different job.” That’s easy to say, but are they as resourced as you are? Do they excel in interviews like you do? Do they have a network of hiring managers that they can ping for a new opportunity like you do? 

“If I were them, I’d just pivot.” Sure, you would do that, but are you weighed down with sunk costs like they are? Have you risked your entire savings on this like they have? 

Instead of making assertions, how might the other party benefit from questions? How might you use curiosity to really get into their worldview, as opposed to just the external situation?

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