What’s the best way to give advice?
No one has the same life experience you do.
No one understands why you think the way you do.
No one can hear your inner monologue except you.
And if that’s true of ourselves, then it is probably true for others as well. Isn’t it?
So why do we feel the need to tell someone else what they should do next? Or how to handle a specific situation?
Maybe we shouldn’t.
Advice is a tricky thing.
When you give advice, there are a couple of scenarios that could occur:
- They listen to your advice and it works out
- They listen to your advice and it doesn’t work out
- They don’t listen to your advice and it works out
- They don’t listen to your advice and it doesn’t work out
In every one of those scenarios, you can (and probably do) lose. Maybe in a big way, maybe just a little.
They listen to your advice and it works out
This sounds great, right?
You helped them out, and they got what the result they wanted. So what’s the problem?
They didn’t do it for themselves.
It’s a victory for you, not for them.
When a similar situation arises in the future, it’s not themselves they’ll lean on but that advice they got from you.
They listen to your advice and it doesn’t work out
Now your advice is attached to a failure.
Why should they listen to you again?
It didn’t work last time, who knows if it’ll work next time.
And if you’ve given them advice that worked in the past, this could overshadow all the “good” things.
Maybe those were just a fluke?
They don’t listen to your advice and it works out
They won, but you lost.
Since they didn’t listen to you and they got what they wanted, your relationship now takes a hit.
If you were wrong about that, what else might you be wrong about?
They don’t listen to your advice and it doesn’t work out
Nobody wins, and there’s not really any strong footing on either side.
You feel slighted, because they didn’t follow your advice and they didn’t get what they wanted.
They feel slighted, because if they followed your advice maybe there would’ve been a different result. But even then it would be a hollow victory, since they wouldn’t have decided that for themselves (clearly they didn’t because they did something else).
What a mess.
So if advice isn’t the answer, what is?
“What do you think you should do?”