Giving Advice: 5 Lessons from a Pro

advice2Have you noticed that when you offer someone a bit of advice, particularly if it’s unsolicited advice, they tend to resist?

Rather than saying, “Great idea! I’ll do that,” they’re more likely to tell you why your advice won’t work for them, even if they’ve explicitly asked for your input.

Having been a consultant for a long time, I’m an advice-giving pro.

When it comes to giving advice, I’ve learned the hard way that telling people what to do (and that’s what advice is) doesn’t work.

5 Hard-Learned Lessons About Giving Advice

1. Listen.

Most people want your ear, not your suggestions — even if they ask for suggestions.

2. Clarify.

The most effective advice simplifies and clarifies what the person is already thinking.

3. Let them talk.

When you give someone a chance to talk their problem out with you, they’ll find their own advice.

4. Make it about them.

Advice you give to people usually reflects your own realities rather than theirs. Try to act as a sounding board for them.

5. Tell a story.

Telling a related story about your own experience lets people find a lesson that they can apply to their situation. (Though the lesson they take may not be the one you thought you were sharing.)

The tips above work for giving advice to colleagues, friends, and your peers.

But there’s an altogether different rule for giving advice to your grown children. DON’T DO IT!

P.S. Yes, I am aware that I just gave you some advice. Are you resisting? 😉

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The Next Time Someone Asks You For Advice, Say “What Do You Think?”

People find that the advice they give themselves is more helpful than the advice you give them.

So when someone asks you for advice, see if you can find a way to help that person come to their own conclusions.

Think of a time when someone gave you some advice. How did it feel?

Share your experience in the comment section below.