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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!


Join The Conversation
emalove emalove 9 years
I try not to give advice unless someone asks me for it...I think people need to realize and learn things for themselves. But I will give my honest opinion and thoughts/suggestions if someone I'm close to asks for it. I would obviously want to help them.
yeokr yeokr 9 years
janine22 - i don't think it is necessarily rude to make suggestions. i feel like you can preface your ideas with "have you thought about it this way?" or "have you tried this approach?" to cover your bases and make sure that you aren't giving one idea that is obviously better than any of her ideas or anything such as that.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Great tips. I surely give better advice to others than to myself.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i always give advice, but i tend to often use personal experiences as well when talking through the problem of a friend or family member...i'm glad to know that personal experiences create a more open and safe environment, because oftentimes i worry it makes me sound like i only want to talk about myself, but rather, i'm using past experiences to help others
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
I usually refrain from giving advice, unless someone just outright asks me for it. Most people just want someone to listen to them, give empathy and understand where they are coming from. Also, I think it is rude to assume that the person has not already thought of the idea you may suggest. Maybe that idea was not right for them. Try really listening to someone and empathisizing. You might be surprised how appreciative people are and deep listening is a rare but needed skill in this world. Why do you think so many people seek counselling?
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