Last Updated on: September 20, 2023
Giving advice to someone can be tricky because many things need careful consideration before giving our two cents since we may be involved in the eventual results, whether favorable or not.
However, sometimes we think and feel that we have the right things to say or advice to offer without fully understanding the other person’s point of view and other variables surrounding their situation.
Here are four questions that we need to consider before giving someone a piece of advice:
Table of Contents
1. Are they asking for it?
The most important consideration we often forget is listening carefully to what the other person is saying.
We must determine if they are genuinely asking for our suggestion or simply trying to vent.
Most of us may already experience this feeling when talking to someone about our problems. We didn’t want any help; we just needed someone who would listen.
On the other hand, some people will explicitly ask for our advice regarding things they think we are capable of or knowledgeable about.
2. What is your level of relationship?
Depending on our level of relationship, our response may vary. We can’t give the honest advice that we’ll typically present to a close friend to someone we barely know.
Another critical criterion is our level of trust and respect for the person asking. Because without these two, we may not be the right person to give the loving or firm guidance they need.
Are we talking among peers, between colleagues, or in a mentor-mentee relationship? Our level of connection will likely dictate how our response will be.
Our shared values will also be essential in what kind of advice we can give.
3. What is your level of competence?
Besides our relationship, it is also essential to determine if we are competent enough to give qualified advice.
Think of it like someone without a medical license giving you health advice. It is dangerous and potentially harmful. This is also applicable to legal or investment advice from untrustworthy sources.
However, there are times when competence is not determined by licenses or degrees. Experience can give personal competence, such as relationship, business, or personal finance advice.
4. Can you be unbiased?
Another important consideration is how you can provide an objective point-of-view or voice of reason without taking sides. If there are multiple parties, how will you determine if you got all the facts?
But since you already established that your level of relationship is enough to warrant you to give a bit of advice, after careful consideration of the facts, you need to provide unbiased advice even if it would hurt the person you’re trying to help.
A word of caution from giving unsolicited advice.
Unsolicited advice is giving a suggestion or course of action to someone not asking for it.
This means we are trying to influence their decision or giving considerations (even if it’s logical) because we think their choice is wrong or may not result in a favorable outcome.
So normally, giving unsolicited advice is a no-no, especially if you don’t have a close relationship with a person.
However, when we have a close relationship with someone, like a nuclear family member or best friend, I think it would be okay, but always proceed cautiously.
We must do it out of love, especially if we have prior experience or insight about a topic and can avoid costly errors.
Still, the final decision is with them, and if they don’t listen, we can sleep soundly at night, thinking that we did our part, and let them handle the consequence of their decision.
Remember, people will only find a teacher when they are ready to learn.
For instance, after she shared the details, I once told some people that the “investment” they were investing in seemed like a scam.
So I gave unsolicited advice to be careful since it looked like a scam. However, they didn’t listen and continued investing, and it was soon proved to be a scam.
I did my part in that scenario to warn them, but the decision was theirs. So, when the dust settled, and the investment proved to be a scam, I didn’t add insult to injury by repeating their mistakes. Still, I hope that they learn from their costly experience.
Giving advice is tricky because sometimes the person we advise does the opposite of what we say or totally ignores our recommendation in favor of their emotions.
However, it is essential to understand that we can only provide informed advice based on facts and arguments. The action will remain solely on the person.
While giving advice never followed continuously can be frustrating, we still need to be there for them.
We also have to give the benefit of the doubt that the other person would consider the few pieces of advice we shared.