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The How-To Lounge: Offering Advice Others Will Take

Giving advice can be very complicated. You don’t want to lead anyone astray, and if you want to have your words taken into account, you have to tread very carefully. You need to be honest without ruffling feathers and convincing without becoming demanding. If it sounds tricky, that’s because it is. Luckily, I’ve come up with some tried and true methods for offering advice others will take. You can check it out if you


  • Most importantly, abstain from judgment — at least openly. Don’t shake your head in disappointment or sigh in disbelief. As soon as someone feels like she's being judged, she won’t be inclined to listen to a word you have to say.
  • Practice thinking before speaking. Consciously deciding what you’re going to say before you say it can make the difference between good and terrible advice.
  • Cater your wording to the person that you’re talking to. If your friend or relative doesn’t do well with authority, then approach things from a very casual point of view. If someone is particularly sensitive on a certain issue, use a tad bit more finesse than usual.
  • Honesty is incredibly important, but being kind is more significant. If you’re not nice, the advisee will focus on how you don’t understand him instead of on the advice you’re actually giving.
  • Referring to your own experiences and mistakes can create a more open and safe place for the people you’re advising. It also tends to make them feel like they can relate to you, which, of course, will make them more inclined to listen to what you have to say.

Remember: if he or she doesn't take your advice, it's nothing personal so don’t get frustrated. Plus, sometimes people are listening more than they let on!


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