Personal Development - Tips About How to Give Advice
How to Give People Advice
You’re not Dear Abby, but you’ve probably been asked for advice before. Maybe you have a friend who is facing a major life decision. Or perhaps you’re a boss trying to mentor an employee. The odds are that you will be asked to give advice on many occasions. There’s definitely an art to knowing how and when to give advice. Take some time to consider whether it’s appropriate to weigh in. Then figure out what you need to say and make sure to deliver your message clearly and in a supportive way.
Offering Thoughtful and Informed Advice
Take time to think.Once you’ve decided to offer advice, take some time to think about what you want to say. It can be just a minute, or, if the situation is serious, a few days.
- For example, if your neighbor wants to know if you can recommend a good gardener, you can probably feel comfortable answering right away.
- Alternatively, if someone asks for advice on choosing a college, say, "Great question. Let me put some thought into that. Let's have lunch and talk about it next week."
Give concrete reasons for your advice.You want to demonstrate that you are actually basing your opinion on something. If your niece asks if she should drop out of college and you think it is a bad idea, don't just say so. Provide justification for your decision.
- For example, you could say, “I think you will find it hard to get the kind of job you want without a college degree.”
Provide information to back up your comment.When you give your advice, make sure that it is grounded in sound reasoning. This can be actual facts or you can draw on your own experience.
- For example, id a friend asks for advice about whether or not to move to a new city, offer them some facts about things like the job market and local schools.
- Alternatively, if your close friend asks if they should adopt a child, you could relay some key details about your own experience.
Be honest.Don’t just tell the person what they want to hear. Give sound advice and make sure it reflects how you really feel. If you're worried about hurting their feelings you can say something like, "You might not like what I have to say. Are you sure you want to hear it?" Then offer supportive statements after you offer the advice.
- For example, you could say, "I actually don't think you're cut out for management. But you seem to have a natural aptitude for sales!"
Make a collaborative plan.Even though you are offering advice, remember that you are not actually the one making the decision. When you’re planning your words, make sure to figure out a way that you can collaborate with the other person. Don’t just tell them what to do.
- Plan to say something like, “I’ve thought about some ideas, but let’s think about your ideas first. What are some of the options you’re considering?”
Don’t be self-serving.Make sure that your advice will actually help the other person. Always keep their best interests at the forefront of your mind. For example, if a coworker asks if they should quit, "don’t say "yes" just because you don’t want to compete with them for a promotion.
- If you are unable to give an unbiased opinion, then don't be afraid to be honest and tell them that you may not be the best person to give them advice.
- Alternatively, help the person make their own decision by asking questions like "Are you happy here?" or "Do you think you can move forward with this company?"
Being Supportive and Helpful
Help them think through options.Instead of just telling someone what to do, try to empower them to make their own choices. Ask them to brainstorm some options with you. Not only will this help you better understand the problem, but it will give that person more ownership over their choices.
- For example, if they are struggling between two dresses, ask them things like: "What dress do you feel most confident in?" or "Which dress is the most comfortable to wear?"
Offer support.Give your advice and follow it up with a supportive statement. You don’t want to pressure anyone into thinking they have to take your advice. Make sure they know that you support whatever choice they make.
- Say, “I feel like searching for a new job might be in your best interest, but I’m behind you no matter what you decide to do.”
Be sincere.Speak from the heart. Make it clear that you care about the person. Use words that are honest and kind. For example, “This is a tough situation and I feel for you. I think it’s probably a good idea to put your dog down, because he is in pain. But I support you no matter what."
Avoid judgement.Remember that whoever asked for your advice trusts you. Make sure that you don’t damage this trust by judging them. When you’re planning what to say, make sure that you use neutral, objective language.
- For example, don’t say, “Of course you shouldn’t leave your wife! What are you, stupid?”
- Instead, you could say, “This is a really personal decision. My advice is that you take some time to examine both your priorities and your emotions.”
Knowing When to Give Advice
Give advice when asked.A good rule of thumb is that you should not offer unsolicited advice. If someone mentions a problem, it’s a pretty common instinct to jump in and offer some suggestions. However, that can make the person feel bad and could suggest that you don’t have faith in their judgement.
- If someone brings up a tough situation, but doesn’t ask for advice, just say, “That’s tough. Let me know if I can help in any way.”
Ask for permission to give advice.Sometimes you might feel compelled to offer advice, even when no one has asked for it. In this case, you should still ask if it’s okay to offer advice. Don’t just jump in and tell someone what to do without asking if they want to hear it. You don’t want to add more stress to their life.
- You can say, “I do have some experience dealing with this type of thing. Would you mind if I offered you some advice?”
Evaluate the request.Even if someone asks for your advice, you shouldn’t always give it. If you know nothing about the situation or don’t have much information, you might consider saying nothing. You can offer support in other ways.
- For example, you could say, “I really don’t have much investment experience. But our friend Bob is great with that. You should ask him.”
Take into account how well you know this person.Before giving advice, consider who you are giving it to. Is it a casual acquaintance? If they ask for a recommendation for a good coffee shop, go ahead and give your opinion. If the issue is of a more personal nature, think twice.
- Consider the consequences. You don’t want to damage your relationships. Do you have a coworker asking for advice? Tread carefully. You don’t want to risk a poor working relationship if your advice doesn’t serve them well.
QuestionHow do I help a person that needs a lot of emotional help?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse the H.E.R.O acronym. Hear what they are saying and show them that you are listening. Empathize with their situation. Reassure them that it's okay to feel this way and that you will help them. Offer them a solution, a way out.Thanks!
QuestionWhen giving advice, what are some tips to being honest and direct?Rabab ACommunity AnswerWhen being honest, think about how you actually feel. Put your relevant feelings and thoughts into words that the person you're talking to will comprehend. Be gentle, and don't criticize, but try not to sugar-coat your honest thoughts and emotions. Be specific and detailed.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if my friend likes older men?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe accepting. Chances are that you won't be able to change their preference in men.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if someone doesn't take my advice and keeps on telling me bad facts about the people they hate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThen you need to avoid the subject as much as possible. Every time they try to bring it up, tell them to not talk to you about it.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I advise youth?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEmpathy and common sense are important. You have to be willing to understand where the child is coming from and speak simply and honestly, keeping the child's well-being foremost in your mind.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I suggest that someone not do something?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk them what they see happening afterward and how the decision could make an impact on their life. Then, ask how that would feel, but don't forget to listen to them in between.Thanks!
How can I give a friend advice about a girl?
My sister claims she is "trying to help we achieve some self awareness" but she analyses everyone and every interaction. How do I get her to see it's not her place to analyze everything?
What should you do if you're bad at giving advice?
- Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t feel comfortable giving advice.
- Choose your words carefully.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Sources and Citations
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