The ability to give great advice is important for everyone. You may be asked for advice by your children on how they should handle social situations. Your spouse could ask for your opinion each morning on which tie looks better. At work, you might be asked what you think the best direction would be for a project.
All of these people coming to you means that you offer a perspective worth seeking.
Even though it’s a compliment, giving advice can also be extremely overwhelming. What if the advice you give sends someone down the wrong path? What if they take what you say and use it in the wrong way? Fortunately, some of the advice you give will likely be on small things, like your spouse’s tie. However, there are times when you may be asked to give someone advice on something life-changing, like a career switch or a move across the country. No matter how big or small the situation, here are a few tips on giving advice that will help you nail it every time.
Wait until you’re asked.
It’s human nature to want to give our opinion, even if nobody asked for it. In fact, one study found that giving advice makes us feel powerful. So of course, we want to give it every chance we get. But if there’s one golden rule, it’s this: Never give unsolicited advice. Even if you have the best intentions in the world, it may come across as critical if the person didn’t specifically ask for it.
Share valuable information.
If you have knowledge in a certain area, use it to help people make informed decisions within your realm. For example, if you recently opened a thriving small business, someone may want to ask you about how you did it so they can follow suit and avoid making mistakes. This would be a great opportunity for you to set them up with suggestions on the resources they’ll need to succeed.
In this scenario, it would be easy to simply say, “Don’t ever do that,” or, “If you do this, your business will be successful and thriving!” Like we said before, just because it worked (or did not work) for you, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. Think of yourself as a guide, leading others to the tools needed to thrive in their own way.
Some of the people who seek your advice don’t actually want it. Wait … what? Yes, it’s true. What people don’t realize is when they go to someone for advice, what they really want is someone to listen to them while they talk through a scenario. Besides, it’s much more genuine when a person can come up with a solution on their own rather than getting it from someone else.
Need a few pointers on how you can be a better listener when someone has a problem? We’ve got you covered.
- Eliminate all distractions and be in the moment.
- Listen to understand rather than to respond (an untrained listener will only do this for about 50% of the conversation.).
- Stay away from phrases like, “It will all be better tomorrow.” Instead, try asking questions that help them see their situation from a new perspective.
- Be patient and don’t interrupt.
- Follow up in a day or two to see how they feel.
Not only will listening give the person a safe space to vocalize their thoughts, but it will also alleviate some of the pressure on you to have to decide what they should do.
Giving GREAT advice is a GREAT skill to have!
Giving great advice is an important responsibility and it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to say the right thing. Fortunately, these simple tips should help you make it a whole lot less stressful!
Looking for more tips to better your life? Read this blog post on the importance and benefits of continuous learning.