Sometimes the best advice you can give is the advice you don’t give. There is a reason why so many jokes and musings are centered on advice. Most advice is a joke and quite amusing. And yet there is no shortage of advice floating around out there. In fact, there is some coming to a conversation near you. The truth is, most people love to give advice, and yet most people don’t take it. There’s a reason for that. When we give advice to others, what we are really giving is a potential vice in the form of a dependency and ignoring the opportunity for the other to research on their own terms, through their own lens and experience. The art and science of helping someone in challenging circumstances is not about telling them what to do. We rarely have all the facts, background, or insight to do that well anyway, not to mention life is seldom a formula, nor are there prepackaged answers we can count on.
If we want to be of value to other people, helping them from point A to B is best achieved through inquiry rather than toying around with half educative statements based on our own experiences. And it shouldn’t be a light inquiry either. It should be so thorough that by the time the other has answered all the right questions, they’ll have given themselves the advice they need. Moving others to think through things on their own facilitates their clarifying the issue, not you. And once they think it through and choose their own way, it creates the best chance of action and lasting impact. Think questions like, “Have you considered? What would it be like if? What would a person like that do? Think communication, not dictation, think investigation, not experimentation. It’s the best for all and that’s my advice, I mean perspective.
Do I have all the facts before I give others my feedback?
How do I feel when someone gives me advice without knowing all the details?