I had lunch with S.I. (SVP Partner) last week and she smiled when I told her that before I give any advice, I think carefully about whether the person wants a sounding board or a paddle. She described a tradition with L.H. in screening how to give advice by pre announcing the question "Pets or Meat"?
From the movie Michael Moore documentary about General Motors and Flint Michigan "Roger and Me" there is a scene where he interviews a ex GM employee who is in the business of raising rabbits. He knocks on the door and asks about rabbits - she responds "Pets or Meat". It is a perfect way of thinking about the range of responses - either listening empathically or responding practically.
Actually the question forces the seeking party into "prefacing" (the term from Ken Druck's book "The Real Rules of Life" - Rule #8 Listening is Love ... How to Really Listen to Strengthen Relationships). "Prefacing is simply setting the tone for a conversation; it lets the other parties know what you want to discuss, your good intentions, and a desired outcome."
I have to say, I laughed when I watched this scene in the documentary. It shows the reality of the world of survival. I'm sure it offended many animal lovers and especially those who love bunnies. The scene where Rhonda Britton actually kills and skins a rabbit even had me a bit squeamish. This documentary is not for the faint of heart - it was "Meat".