Quick Thought Session 10: Giving advice is great but listening is even better

Do you typically want to give advice to a friend, colleague, a spouse or even an acquaintance when they are going through some issue in their life? Do you usually try to find a response to whatever they’re saying rather than listening to their every word? Are you the go to “therapist” in your group and you get off by spilling out all your greatest thoughts on a particular subject?

Well booboo, sometimes giving advice or being someone’s “therapist” is not the way to go. Most people just want to vent and they need a trusting ear. Your first reaction may cause you to spew out anecdotals or words of wisdom, but there are times where people just want to pour their souls out without judgement.

When we give advice to people we care about it tends to come off as judgment; judgement on what they should not or should do based on our own belief systems. What we feel is best for us and it may or may not be best for the other person. Remember, people go through things or face things based on their own individual experiences and when we give out advice, we are basing it on OUR own experiences.

Our advice is well-intentioned but it can lead to resentment and a strong willingness to hold back information that is vital for the other person to release. Instead of trying to resolve their issue, ask your peer questions that can help guide them in figuring out what they can do best for themselves. These questions could be:

  1. How does that make you feel? Why?
  2. Why do you think you reacted in the way that you did?
  3. How does this affect you in the long run?
  4. Why is this issue important to you?
  5. How does this affect you on an emotional level?

Usually the other person knows what they must do to resolve their issues, but just need help along the way. The best thing is to listen, without offering advice and try to help them resolve their issues on their own by asking opening-ended questions. You don’t need to have all the answers nor should you provide them. Remember, everyone else is on their personal journey and what you decide what is best for you, is not always what’s best for everyone else.

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