Sometimes the best advice you can give is the advice you don’t give.
There’s a reason why so many jokes and musings are centered around advice. Most advice is a joke and most quite amusing. And yet there’s no shortage of advice floating around out there. In fact, there’s 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. Although advice does add something to others, what it really adds is a potential “vice” in the form of dependency and ignoring the opportunity to research on our own terms, through our own lens and experience. The art and science of helping someone in challenging circumstances is not about telling someone 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 A to B is best achieved through inquiry rather than toying with half-educated statements based on our own experiences. And it shouldn’t be 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 that they need. Moving others to think through things on their own facilitates them 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.
Don’t add vice… add value to others today.
How do I feel when someone gives me advice without knowing all the details?