Our life coaches, Style and Substance: On giving advice

Advice is requested because somebody close to us has a need; and anytime there is a need there is vulnerability. People will ask your advice because they respect you and your opinion and experiences, and most importantly, because there is trust. The trust somebody places in another when asking advice is foundational to the relationship. Because of this vulnerability, the advice giver must proceed with the intention of truthfulness and compassion.

Some great general rules of thumb in giving advice are:

•Be an active listener, gather and clarify all of the facts; be prepared to hear more as the conversation unfolds.

•Put yourself in the other’s position, you make act differently in your own situations, but this takes the seeker’s personal life and unique history into account.

•What might the long term and short term consequences be if another takes or leaves your advice? Maybe discuss this as part of your offering. This could also be an exercise in pros and cons, which is a helpful technique for helping yourself or others in the future.

•Have empathy, this means that you genuinely care about your friends’ well- being and leaves the decisions up to the individual.

•Brainstorm solutions - the seeker then gains control over his/her possible choices. The advice seeker becomes an active participant in the process. It also generates lots of possible solutions and it may bring clarity and resolution.

•Be honest!

•Set a good example by living your life as authentically as you speak.

When you become highly frustrated with those who seem to always have the same problems, but never seem to make any changes or want to seek alternatives, you may start to avoid them.

A better approach may be preparing kind words to point out what you consider the obvious. This is where tact and being comfortable with your own personal approach become key.

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