People are well-meaning and sincerely want to help when giving advice,but sometimes our thoughts come across the wrong way.
Follow these seven tips next time you choose to give advice and you’ll be seen as a confidant and trusted adviser.
Let’s say a friend is thinking about leaving her job. You think it’s a mistake, but before you tell her, ask why she’s leaving. Her response, and the facts she provides, might change your mind.
Support, rather than debate
Sometimes a decision is already made and the best guidance you can provide is helping the person reach their goal. If your daughter wants to backpack across Europe after college graduation, and is determined to do so, work with her to ensure her journey is both safe and enjoyable.
Put yourself in their shoes
Your coworker is miserable in her job and wants to quit. You like her boss and can’t understand why she’d leave such a good company. Telling her that would discount her feelings and potentially drive a wedge between you. Before you speak, remind yourself that we’re all different, and what you consider a great work environment might be horrible for others.
Don’t downplay the consequences
People try to be supportive by downplaying the possible consequences of a potential decision. For example, “The worst think that could happen is you’ll have to get a second job,” or “If it doesn’t work, you’ll only be out $50.”
Problem is, the person giving the advice doesn’t have to deal with the consequence, so of course it’s not such a big deal to them. It’s easy to shrug off the results if someone else is paying the piper.
Whether you agree or disagree with what a person thinks, you’ll go farther with an encouraging approach. For example, your nephew Jimmy wants to play professional baseball. You can tell him that the odds are one in a million, or you can tell him to work hard, do his best, and see how things fall out.
Remember, history is full of successful people who were told they didn’t have what it takes.
This one’s tough, particularly if you don’t agree with what the person is thinking. If I’m not an expert on the topic, I’ll generally defer when asked my option. For example: “Geez, I couldn’t do that, but you may be better equipped to make that choice.”
If the topic is a subject where I do have expertise or knowledge, I’ll either offer an alternative (“Have you thought about calling instead of sending an email?”) or pointing to data that supports an alternative view (“I’ve read that eating a healthy breakfast every day actually helps with weight loss.”)
The reason someone asked for your opinion is that she likely respects you and wants your advice. Remember to return that respect in you interaction.
Your turn. What guidelines do you follow when giving advice?