6 Tips for Getting and Giving Advice

talking

One of the main lessons we learn growing up is that it is always okay to ask for help. That is very true. Yet, people have trouble receiving help in this new era. People who post their feelings on sites like Facebook are often accused of whining and needing attention. If you need advice, you need to ask for it directly. Your true friends will be there for you.

What do you do when you get bad advice? Trust your instincts. (If your instincts disagree with this statement, feel free to disregard it). If you think someone does not have your best interests at heart, you do not have to listen. Peer pressure is a good example of this. If someone wants you to have a drink and it’s legal, it is fine to indulge. However, if you have already had enough, then you do not have to drink to be cool. You know yourself better than anyone else does. You probably also have developed some sense of right and wrong. Even if you are lost and confused on issues and you ask for advice, it is not rude not to take it. The important thing is to respect that person who tried to help you.

Here are some tips to make sure that happens:

  1. Listen. Listen to someone’s advice even if it is not what you want to hear. It may be what you need to hear.
  2. Think about it for yourself. It may make you see things in a new light even if it does not solve your problem immediately. As I noted before, trust your instincts.
  3. Say thank you. Say it in words or a gesture such as buying them coffee. Even if what they said did not work out, at least they tried.

Giving advice can also be hard because you do not want to be responsible for leading someone down the wrong path. Sometimes you have not gone through what someone else is going though. The best you can do is just be there. If someone is coming to you for help, it makes them brave but vulnerable. Do not betray that trust. You are giving the gift of your experience. This could save someone from making a mistake that you have made yourself. You are also giving someone the benefit of your friendship, which will last much longer than any problem. The most important note is that in giving advice, it is not about you. It is about helping someone else. 

Here are some tips to make sure that happens:

  1. Make sure the person is ready for the information. If someone does not want to be helped, they will not accept any help. Specifically, see if they ask to know what you think. Sometimes people just want to be heard.
  2. Think about what you do know about the situation. Do your best to make an informed statement even if you feel out of your depth. If you have no idea what they are going through, it is okay to admit that. It gives them the chance to see if they still want your opinion.
  3. Be honest but be kind. The truth is important but it is not worth making the person you are helping feel judged. If they feel like you are against them, they might not accept your help. Try to see things from their perspective.

No matter what, you have to trust that what you’re doing is right. You have to be kind. You can always ask for help if you need it.   

Image: morguefile