On Giving Advice

advice/correction Aug 07, 2022

As someone who gives advice as a living, I have learned a few things about advice-giving in general, whether we’re talking to kids or adults:

1- Most of the time (99%), no one is really looking for advice when they share hard stuff or when hard stuff is happening.. they’re just looking to vent/share in a safe environment.6

2- We want to give advice based on our own desire to help. That’s when I have to ask myself, is this moment about me or the other person? Wanting to help is a noble idea except we have to evaluate what KIND of help is needed at that moment. Just providing an active listening space is proven to be more helpful in reality;)

3- When we do gently offer advice and the other person gets defensive, that’s a clear sign we’ve missed our mark... wise to quietly back off instead of pushing ahead with our agenda.

4- Even when you really really want to give advice, start with something positive first.. “Yes, and..” it engages the “thinking brain” and the chances that something will get through.

5- Consider posing thoughtful questions instead of direct advice. “Do you think it’s helpful to engage with your MIL or leaving the room might be better for your own peace?” (Side note: you’re all here for advice but when I ask a question in #questionoftheweek #qotw I get 10/20 times more replies than when I deliver a lectury-post ;))

6- It can feel really frustrating when a friend or relative is constantly self-sabotaging (making the same mistakes again and again without creating change) and in that case I suggest either giving up advice altogether and becoming a listener only or if you’re struggling with that then gently letting the person know you’re no longer equipped to hear the same stories because you get frustrated and that won’t help your relationship.

7- It’s extremely extremely important to tell the difference between giving advice and giving judgement.

“That’s not good/nice/kind.” Is a judgement. It causes harm to your relationship and zero growth. (“I didn’t like that” or “do you think he/she likes that...” is a better approach)

More judgement statements.

“You always do xyz.

“You never...

“How come all you ever do is...

“Why do you always...?”

“You’re so *insert negative label*.

“You just don’t think before...

“You need to...

Instead, try.

“I feel frustrated when there’s so much fighting.” (No “you” in the statement at all)

“I feel disrespected when the dishes are lying around instead of being in the sink.” (“Mujhay Acha nahi lagta jab...”)

“What can we do about your room being messy too often?”

“Do you need help starting healthier habits?”

“I just joined a gym.. I’d love to have you come with me.. I miss spending more time with you!”

“I feel alone and mistreated when your mom speaks to me unkindly and I’m left to defend myself. How can you support me?”

“I’m concerned about your brain being affected by so many hours of video games.. when can we talk about some boundaries?”

(The theme is to convey how things affect US or what our concerns are rather than accusing people/kids)

I hope that helps and yes I get what an oxymoron kind of post this is. Advice about not giving advice;)