How To Give Good Advice

We all want to give the best advice to our friends. What we don’t realize is that when our friend is vulnerable, in tears, seeking for our wise words, we have a lot of power in our hands. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility, so we must avoid giving advice that might lead our friend astray.

To help your friend in the best way you can, here are some tips that you can do:

  1. Know that they want you to approve of them

When someone asks for advice, sometimes they are simply asking for your approval. They want to hear someone say, “Yeah you should do that or yeah that’s ok. This doesn’t mean that you should always say that, but you should know that an immediate response of judgment might shut down the possibilities of deeper communication.

Keep an open mind and listen. Relax your facial muscles against expressions of disdain or horror, unless your friend wants you to display that kind of reaction. Opt to look understanding and kind. Temporarily set aside your biases, your political inclinations, your religious beliefs, and the like, to make room for the kind of reality that your friend is painting. Step into the person’s shoes and imagine what it’s like to be her.

  1. Ask before you say something

If you think it’s your turn to speak once your friend reaches her first pause and looks at you imploringly, you’re wrong. This is merely your cue to ask questions. You need to gather information first in order to evaluate your friend’s problem. Don’t jump to conclusions right away.

Ask about her motives, the details of her plans, who will be affected by this decision, what values she wants to uphold, and what she thinks will make her happy.

This is important because sometimes your friend will assume you’ll instinctively know what she’s thinking or what she’s going through without giving you the low-down on everything that has happened to her and everything else that’s happening inside her mind. You need to coax her to flesh out the entire picture or else the situation will be ripe for misunderstanding.

  1. Paint various pictures

When someone decides to do something, there can be a number of outcomes. Explore these possibilities with your friend. Ask your friend, if this happens or that happens, will you be ok with it? You have to exercise your creativity when it comes to thinking up scenarios because you want to cover all of your bases. Don’t let creativity, though, be an excuse to stray toward the illogical. You want your suggestions to be grounded in reality. 

  1. Use the my-personal-view-on-this caveat

It’s time to give your advice. Start with a disclaimer that this is your personal view. You must identify certain personal characteristics and experiences that made you biased toward this course of action. After these disclaimers, you can tell your friend what you would do if you were in her place, and you must explain your reasons for it.

  1. End with choice

No matter how smart you are or how experienced, what seems like the right decision for you might not necessarily be the right thing for your friend. End your advice-giving session with, “It’s still your choice”. This is not about convincing your friend into blindly following your advice. Let your friend think about everything you’ve discussed, so she can figure out for herself what she really wants. After all, encouraging your friend to have a mind of her own is something that a good friend does.

Your friend might be the one seeking for your advice, your friend is still the main stakeholder in this situation. She is the only person who will truly know what set of life choices she’s willing to live with. It is really her choice, and that in itself will probably be the best part of your advice.

About the Contributor

Jasmine Cruz is an art reporter, blogger, fictionist, inspirational writer, singer-songwriter, artist, fashion designer, feminist, writing workshop facilitator, and she recently started dabbling in spoken word poetry. Somehow, all of that is still not enough. Good thing she’s great at time management.

She graduated Bachelor of Fine Arts Major in Creative Writing (cum laude) and Creative Writing Program Writing Award recipient at the Ateneo de Manila University. She was also part of the Ateneo Debate Society and has garnered several achievements, including the award for fourth best speaker in Asia.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Female Network have published her articles. She worked at Summit Media’s Female Network as an editorial assistant, and she currently works at a newspaper as an art reporter where she writes about the visual arts, theater, ballet, classical music, cultural events, and more. She will begin her freelance writing career in January 2016.

This article was originally posted in her blog, Age of the Diary.

This contributor is a customer of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®.

See all of Jasmine Cruz's posts →

Photo from Image source here.

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