How to: Give Advice
It’s a complicated world out there, and if you tell someone else how to navigate it, things could go wrong, leaving you holding the bag. That being said, if you do plan on giving advice, we’re here to tell you how to do it right (and, yes, the irony has been noted).
FIRST OFF, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO.
Ask yourself, how can my generous counsel possibly come back to bite me (because it probably will)? What are you willing to lose if things go wrong? Maybe you shouldn’t be trying to play the hero in the first place.
NOW THAT YOU KNOW THE RISKS, DESIGN A VIABLE PLAN.
Email is most likely not appropriate for anything more than advice on what colour someone should paint their bedroom (and even that’s iffy). Get together in person in order to minimize misinterpretation.
DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN NO-MAN’S LAND.
It’s easy to take sides, but if your side turns out to be wrong, the advice-seeker might turn on you, so keep your words of wisdom as neutral as possible. Keep a cool head—that’s sound advice at any time.
MOST OF THE TIME, PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY’RE LOOKING FOR ADVICE AREN’T ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR YOUR OPINION.
They just want confirmation that they’re right. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, and give your confidante the chance to provide good answers.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO IS GET THE OTHER PERSON TO THINK—ABOUT THEIR OWN FEELINGS,
the other person’s feelings, potential actions, consequences and end results. Even if you give great advice, things might still blow up in your pupil’s face. Get them to seriously consider that possibility.