Sunday, December 15, 2013

How To Give Advice

With the holidays fast approaching, family and friends will be spending more quantity time together.  Even if you do not celebrate the upcoming holidays, many businesses and schools create a calendar which leaves you with more family time.  Inevitably when family and friends have extra time together and a chance to catch up, there is usually someone in the group who likes to give unsolicited advice.  Or there may be someone who appears to be asking for advice when they are complaining about an unbearable situation.  Yet, most people do not take advice easily.

What you should do and what you want to actually do are often very different things.  Even if the advice we’ve been given is spot on, the fact that we have been told we ‘should’ do is often the very reason we don’t follow the advice.  There is something irritating to be told we should be doing something.  It implies that we are not doing something and that the other person is wiser that we are.  Who are they to think they know better and exactly what will work for us?

One of the big pieces of communicating is putting across your ideas, suggestions, or advice while letting the other person decide for themselves how, and/or if, it will work for them.  It then becomes their decision, their action. 

So, here are few tips to get across your idea, suggestion, advice without 'shoulding' people? 
  1. Perhaps start with, “I’ve got an idea for you.”  This way you are only putting out an idea and it is for them to contemplate and understand if and how it will work. 
  2. Maybe you could say, “Can I make a suggestion here?”  Again, you are putting across that you have something to offer and you want to get their permission whether they want to hear it.  People rarely refuse this polite offer.   
  3. The technique of thinking aloud, “hmmm, that’s a tough problem, now I wonder if…” is also a nice way to offer advice.  First, you are empathizing that they have a difficult issue.  Second, the thinking aloud approach is non-confrontational and gives them the respect to be the one who chooses to take the advice.
So, can I make a suggestion here? Try these phrases out the next time you feel yourself about to say the 'shoulds.'  It will make your family and friend time much more relaxed while giving you the opportunity to offer help to someone you care about.

Stay healthy & well,

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