Do you find that people come to you for advice? Not sure how to give advice effectively? This article provides tips on what you can do to make your feedback valuable.
"So what do you think I should do?"
The question is asked and as a good friend, you are expected to have the answers. You can either jump at the opportunity or shrink away from it. Your friend is in a predicament and they want your advice.
The following tips will provide you with a foundation for which to share your wisdom.
Before you give any piece of advice, make sure that you fully understand the situation. Resist the temptation to give your opinion immediately. Keep your emotions out of it. Employ the tips from The Art of Listening
to first listen effectively. This first step may very well eliminate the need for you to give advice. You may find that your friend simply needs to vent.
Be careful not to offer unsolicited advice. Before giving any advice, be absolutely sure that it is in fact wanted. Many times others just want someone to agree their perspective and tell them what they want to hear. The only advice they will listen to is that which confirms their position. If you don't listen, ask the right questions and get a balanced perspective, you won't have the foundation needed to give solid, objective advice.
Use the five W's (these are "interrogative" pronouns; yes, I did pay attention in English class!) as an exercise not only for you to understand the details, but for your friend to process through the situation for themselves.
- What is the conflict? What actions put you in this situation? What are you feeling?
- Who specifically is the cause of the conflict? Who else, other than you, is affected by this situation?
- Why are you seeking advice? Why does something need to be done?
- Where did this take place?
- When does this need to be resolved?
Asking these questions may not only clarify the situation, but begin to bring up the options available to resolve the situation.
Once you have listened, asked questions and fully identified the situation, you are ready to make an assessment. Hopefully in the course of talking through the situation, you may have already come to a consensus with your friend. Sometimes the answer is obvious when you ask the right questions.
Be sure to review all the options available and specify what you see as the most feasible solution. Weigh the consequences of each choice and make sure that the person understands the risks of the decision.
There may be times that you give what you think is great advice and the person even agrees and promises that they will take the advice. However, you find out later that they didn't take your advice. Don't allow yourself to be offended. Resist the temptation to say "I told you so" when someone refuses to take your advice and suffers the consequences of a bad decision.
If you aren't comfortable giving advice, don't be afraid say so. If you are not a certified counselor, don't feel obligated to take the weight of assessing a big decision. For serious situations with dire consequences attached, do your best to point the other person to seek professional help. Giving bad advice which can lead to someone harming themselves or others can be a heavy burden to carry.
Take the time to show that you care enough to give helpful and objective advice. You will find that trust and respect will abound in your relationships.
What did I miss? Are there any other tips you can think of for giving advice?