Do you love giving advice to friends? Do you notice that when they share their troubles you know just what they need? It's amazing how you can come up with solutions that you know are just right for them. But, is giving advice the best thing to do?
I have a good friend, who loves giving advice. She loves giving advice so much that she's constantly thinking up ideas for people even when they aren't around. She thinks about what people need such as jobs they should seek, where they should shop, or even what clothes they should wear. My friend gives advice to everyone: friends, family, and even brief acquaintances. She believes that if people would just listen to her, they would be so much happier because she knows exactly what they need.
However, do you notice how people rarely take advice? They complain about their troubles, but when we give them a few pointers; they just don't do it!
Unfortunately, people rarely take advice, especially, if is unsolicited. "If only, this person would have listened to me," my friend would say, "she would have solved her problem by now." The problem is, if people, aren't specifically asking for advice they most likely won't take it.
She just didn't realize that when she gave advice, she was subtly communicating that her friends weren't capable of solving their own problems. Getting unsolicited advice often made them feel inadequate and defensive; feelings that certainly kept them from being open to new ideas and solutions.
What do people who complain want then, if not our advice? Often, our friends just want to vent, they want to express their problems out loud for support. They just want someone to listen to them. What listeners can do, instead of trying to solve the problem is to ask questions that can help their friends think through their difficulties.
For example, instead of giving her friend advice about the problems she was having at work, she could have asked questions to help clarify her friends dilemma, such as: "What have you tried so far?" "What has worked for you in the past?" "What are your thoughts going forward?" "What are your options?"
Do you see how asking questions can be more helpful to our friends, than just jumping to advice giving? Asking questions instead of solving, let's our friends know they are capable of figuring out their own best path and they will feel happier as a result.
"You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway."