Giving Advice: Be “That Friend” With Ions of Good Advice

givingadviceWhen in a bind, a friend’s advice can be all it takes to pull you out of a rut. All of us have that friend who just always seems to know the right thing to say at the right time. And then there’s the friend who always says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Don’t be that friend. Check out this course on how to “get” people in practical psychology. Here are some quick tips to boost your advice giving skills.


“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

No seriously, do it. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. That’s usually indicative of not listening and whoever you are trying to advise is going to notice. Plus, how are you possibly going to offer solid suggestions if you aren’t even fully comprehending what the situation is? It’s called active listening; ask meaningful questions, clarify if you don’t understand and finally begin to speak.


“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.” –Walt Whitman

Empathy is one of the great powers of the world; it separates humans from other species and allows us to fully understand the plight of another person. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t lived through a situation, we have the ability to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and feel as if we have. It’s from this place inside of us that we should draw our most poignant advice from. When someone asks you for advice practice tip number one and listen to them, then use empathy to embrace the circumstances and speak the advice you would need to hear. Understanding people is a skill that not everyone has, and that’s okay. Take some time to study social psychology in this course and gain some more insight on the people in your life.


“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius

Sometimes when a friend asks for our advice we are quick to the punch because we’ve been there. We know what they are going through and we know what helped us out. Draw from this experience to guide your advisee to a new and attainable solution to their dilemma. Remember that this is advice and not a mandate so if what worked for you doesn’t work for them, don’t push the issue. Also remember that while it’s great to offer advice from the situations in your life, don’t turn it into the “me” show. By this I mean, don’t begin telling your life story and how you triumphed over all of the obstacles every time. Sometimes this kind of “hope lives” story can inspire others, and sometimes it can pull the attention away from the person who needs it. Need work on conversation skills? You’re not alone – trust me. Read How to Keep a Conversation Going for some crucial tricks on beating the silence.

Would you?

“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” – William James

Would you take your own advice? If you were in the same situation seeking help from a friend and they told you “just go with it”, would that suffice? Spend some time weighing the pros and cons of the situation. What are the long-term effects of the advice you’re giving? Short-term? Is this advice feasible? Really try to use critical thinking to come up with a plan (or two) that could work to resolve the issue at hand. If you need to brainstorm out loud then do it. Maybe something you’re thinking has escaped your friend and it’s exactly the solution they were looking for and didn’t even know it.


“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson

It’s not always easy to be honest about something that could present as bad news – but honesty is key. If you care about the person you’re helping you may have to swallow the uncomfortable lump in your throat and just spill. Likewise, if you feel like you’re just not the right person to be asking let them know. It’s better off they spend their time finding someone who can be of benefit to them than watching you spin your wheels to no avail. Personalities vary so greatly that sometimes when you’re being honest you can be too honest and moreso at the wrong time. They say there is a right time for everything, right? Dig deeper into psychology of personalities worldwide in this course to understand yourself better, and the people around you.

Set the Example

“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.” -Gandhi

Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you offer advice but you don’t follow your own lead, what does that say about your sincerity? Make sure you live the words you speak and don’t just preach to the choir. Building trust is a vital component to any relationship and to maintain that you need to follow through with the things you say you’re going to (or should) do.

In the end, it’s about being your honest and true self in the presence of the person who needs you. Learn more about effective communicating in this course: Improve Communication Skills.