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wshaffer
Sometimes the best advice is very little advice at all 
9th-Jan-2015 08:35 am
RTFM
3 times in the past 2 days, I've been asked for my advice by a colleague on a writing problem. And it goes something like this: the colleague describes the problem to me, while I listen. And at appropriate points I do one of three things:
* Say, "What do you think is the most important thing to communicate to the user here?"
* Say, "So, what I think you're proposing is this..." and sketch something on a whiteboard or a sheet of paper.
* Say, "It seems to me you have two logical options here: A or B. Which do you think would work better?"

At the end of the conversation, they always tell me that I've been very helpful. And I suppose I have been, but given that 90% of the ideas have come from the other person, I'm not sure if what I've offered is "advice", exactly.
Comments 
9th-Jan-2015 04:48 pm (UTC)
You have just described the most helpful form of consulting: helping people who are closest to a problem to think through the problem. When I was young, I thought that consultants ho got paid lots of money to offer this kind of help were ripping their clients off, because all the information came from the client. Now I think they're doing just what the client needs, because all the information comes from the client. The thought organization is what the consultant -- in this case, you -- offers, and it's really valuable.
10th-Jan-2015 01:12 am (UTC)
*points upwards and nods*
9th-Jan-2015 09:38 pm (UTC)
Dude, the number of times teleidoplex has helped me solve plot problems just by sitting there and listening while I explain things to her . . .

Having somebody reflect your own thoughts back to you can make them 400% clearer.
9th-Jan-2015 09:40 pm (UTC)
::gets you a cardboard cutout::
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