Irrespective of our credentials, all of us tend to get approached for advice every now and then, from friends, family and co-workers. As advice seekers, we often find ourselves having a go-to person for advice. Why do we pick certain people over others? What do these people do better when it comes to giving advice? How can we do better as advice providers? Anna Goldfarb of The New York Times puts together a neat set of tips for all of us to learn.
Make sure you’re actually being asked to give counsel. It’s easy to confuse being audience to a venting session with being asked to weigh in. Sometimes people just want to feel heard.
Be clear on the advice-seeker’s goals. Ask what outcome the advice-seeker hopes to see so your ideas align with the person’s desires.
Consider your qualifications. People often go to those close to them for advice, even if family members and friends aren’t always in the best position to effectively assist
Be friendly. Words have power. Words can heal. A recent study found that doctors who simply offer assurance can help alleviate their patients’ symptoms. It’s essential to start the advice-giving conversation with this same reassuring tone.
Share experience. People tend to resist when advice is preachy, Ms. Marshall said. Saying, “I’ve been there and here’s what I did,” makes people more receptive.
Identify takeaways (and give an out). After discussing a problem and suggesting how to handle it, Ms. Marshall asks her clients what tidbit resonated with them the most. Then she gives them permission to disregard any suggestions she made that weren’t a good fit.
Agree on next steps. Lastly, ask what kind of continued support is needed (if any) and what efforts should be avoided. Would checking in motivate the person, or would it feel overbearing?
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