The Art of Giving Useful Advice

Aykut ÖÇAL

Aykut ÖÇAL

Digital Creator & Growth Marketer

There are some friends you call when you have a fight with your family, your girlfriend dumped you, or you have problems at work. You remind yourself of the advice he gives you over and over and try to overcome the problematic process you are in with his road map. Everyone needs at least one such friend in life. Andrea Bonior, Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, states that this is exactly the criterion that separates a true friend from any acquaintance.

The problem is that none of us are Güzin Abla in real life, and when we are asked for advice, we either say the first words that come to mind, or take a prejudiced attitude towards what happened to others based on our past experiences. “It’s hard to give or take advice, because it means internalizing someone else’s point of view,” says Silvia Bonaccio, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Ottawa. One of our readers, 32-year-old Zuhal, highlights the problems that may arise when following the advice does not work well: “I told my friend, who learned that he was cheated on, that he should break up with his girlfriend and that she was not suitable for him, but somehow they resolved their problems and decided to get married. When I went to the wedding, I realized that I was not really wanted there. Because the man she married was aware of my thoughts about her and was pressing my friend to talk to me less. After a while, we got far from each other. Now I can say that we have become strangers. Because of all these events, I decided that I shouldn’t make harsh comments about people’s relationships. With a few changes in your perception of advice, you can help both yourself and those around you in times of danger.

Be a Good Listener
The heart of giving advice is to listen to your friend and understand what they need, and it’s a skill you can learn if you put a little bit of weight into it. 
Consider Their Needs
The first and most important step is to figure out if your friend needs advice. You can openly ask him, “Are you curious about my opinion?” Remember, they may have just wanted to talk to you. 
Show That You’re Interested
Bonaccio says, “Give your friend the time and space he/she needs. They will clearly see the problem themselves while they try to tell you what the problem is. Then, when it’s your turn to speak, use a few sentences in their speech so that they understand that you are listening carefully.”
Activate Them
If he makes sentences like ‘I don’t know what to do’ or’ I feel trapped’ after telling you about his problem or repeats himself when telling you about his problems, he is trying to figure out what he should do next and needs you to guide him. If he has given you these signs, you can encourage him to take action and take the next step.
Engage Your Wisdom
Whether you are trying to understand the situation or be supportive, here are the strategies you should apply. 
Different Experiences, Different Results
Before making any comments, remember that personal history may not be the same as what your friend went through, and don’t let what’s happening to you overshadow what they are going through right now. Even if you have found unique career opportunities thanks to unexpected offers after you resigned from your job, this does not mean that he will encounter the same beauties.
What Matters Today
Putting her past mistakes in her face and saying, ‘You always do this. And then you sit down and say ‘you cry’ will only make her feel embarrassed. Remember, the problem is her current boyfriend. There’s no point in revealing all of your relationship history and mistakes. 
Offer Choice, Don’t Steer
Illuminate the way to a solution by listing the possibilities that you thought did not come to your friend’s mind after the events in the heat. As a result of his research, Bonaccio has concluded that people are more likely to practice guiding such as “Keep in mind” instead of directing such as “Do this” or “Say that.”
  

Be Honest
Of course, we can predict that one of the most fundamental characteristics of your friendship is honesty and that you will act in this way when giving advice. But that doesn’t mean you should be upfront throughout the conversation. Just say what you think sincerely once and wait for the message to reach him from then on. 
Take Baby Steps
After the first 10 minutes of listening to the problem, take a break and comment instead of revealing all your thoughts. Keeping your conversation off the axis of dialogue and asking how it is after a while and how it decides shows that you care, listen, support, and focus on the solution.
When Things Go Wrong
When your friend, who acted by following your advice, does not see the results he hoped for, put your guilt psychology on the shelf and follow these steps to save your friendship.
Assume and Apologize
Since you can’t turn back time because of your insistent attitude, if you put him on a path he didn’t want, and he encountered a dead end at the end of this road, the most logical move you can do is to admit that you are guilty. Don’t be afraid to confess. 
Explain Yourself
I have no other goal but your well-being. We recommend that you say, ‘I never thought it would end this way.’ Stick to your ideas and say, “I can’t believe you didn’t get a raise. Approaching him in a ‘what did you say or didn’t happen’ attitude can mean that you blame him, and it will greatly damage your friendship.
  
Fix It
“You should probably never ask me for advice again.” But ask, ‘What can I do to fix this whole process that went wrong and make you happy?’ It would be beneficial to have this conversation with a glass of drink at your dinner alone. Remember, there is no problem that a close girlfriend date can’t solve.

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