Our life coaches, Style and Substance: On giving advice

Dear Style & Substance:

Since you are experts in the advice business I thought you would have the answer to my question. Why do people ask me for my advice and then not take it? I am someone who naturally listens to people’s problems and am always asked for advice. I try to be thoughtful and diplomatic when giving it. Really, why bother asking if you don’t want to hear the truth. Do you ever get frustrated when people don’t listen?

We love your question and it reminds us that there are definitely givers, getters and sharers of advice out there! You must be a compassionate person, along with a good listener. We have found that many people just want to give voice to their problems and they are simply seeking someone who will listen and validate their feelings.

One key in giving advice, is to let go of your expectation of that person’s response. Advice is a possibility, not an absolute. The advice seeker may not take your advice, that does not mean she or he did not respect your opinion, it only means she or he took a different path to resolution.

We all have choices in life and you are just articulating options that they might take. We find this quote to be quite helpful:

“The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right”

– Hannah Whitall Smith

Since the definition of advice is “an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action”, you expect action. There is a lot of risk in altering a life path; and when a person seems immobile in their action-response, it doesn’t mean that his/her emotional/mental-response is not hard at work. Leaving the judgment/action out of your hands, means that you are really wanting what is best for your friend.

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