The 3 Best Ways to Give Someone AdviceBy Homaira Kabir
Have you ever heard your own voice go Blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah? Everything about the person next to you is silently begging you to stop. YOU are begging you to stop, but still you go on: Blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah….
I know I've often experienced this as a mother. I also know that most leaders struggle with the same curse of being in a position of influence—we love doling out advice. Not only that, but we also expect others to follow it, not realizing that the outcomes of our expectations are self-defeating. If the person on the receiving end becomes used to following advice, they'll keep waiting to be told what to do. And if they decide to listen and then ignore your advice, we tend to become very disappointed, if not angry and resentful.
Thankfully, there is a better way of giving advice, based on the concept of what humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers called "positive regard." It emerges from a belief that the person next to us is whole and capable of making their own best decision, and that our job is to simply nudge them toward it.
So how do we do so?
1. Listen Deeply
How often have you listened to someone recount their story while simultaneously listening to your own judgment about their story or planning what you'll say in return, and blurting it out before they're even done speaking? Listening fully, on the other hand, is about quieting your own mind so you can enter theirs and see the world from their perspective. When you listen to their anxieties, fears, or confusion, you help them feel understood. You help them shift their physiological response away from fight-or-flight—which is not conducive to thinking clearly or creatively—to a state of calm and composure.
2. Resist the Urge
That's when the magic happens. Once they've shifted from their aroused emotional state of panic or confusion, they begin to tap into their own sources of wisdom. They begin to come up with their own set of possible solutions. But your work is not yet done! You need to stay silent, instead of trying to one-up them in some way. You'll be surprised at how often we do so, either because we're hung up on our own answers or because we're desperately trying to add value to the conversation. If that's you, resist the urge. Let them sit with their own "aha moment" for a while, as you nod in agreement and reflect on whether your suggestion adds real value.
3. Offer Without Attachment
If your suggestion doesn't add real value, bite your lip. If it does, offer it by building on what the other person has already said. Begin by showing them why