A Little Advice About The Gift of Advice

Young woman whispering secret to her shocked friend at home

I spoke with someone the other day who was very upset about a decision that a good friend was making. “I gave the best advice I could! If they don’t take it, it’s on them. I’m done with them!” I am paraphrasing here but this is the gist. The advice giver was frustrated and if we are honest we have all probably been on one end or the other of feeling frustrated about advice.

Before I started a counseling graduate program I hailed my self as a pseudo psychologist. I had been in the advice giving business for years. Counseling would be such a great fit for me. Imagine my surprise when the first thing I learned was that advice giving was not counseling at all! In fact counselors are trained NOT to give advice. We help our clients come to their own conclusions in thought provoking ways, but we never give them advice. What a big paradigm shift!

Now, I certainly give and receive my fair share of advice but just not in my counseling role. I think there is great value in getting advice from others who may have some insight to your predicament. I just know and hope you do too now that it isn’t counseling. Okay, now that we have that all clear lets talk advice.

When giving advice keep these three things in mind

Advice is much like giving a gift-I read once that Oprah said that when she gives a gift she releases it. She gives the gift (money included) with a good heart and good intentions. What the receiver chooses to do with the “gift” is on them. Advice is very much like that. When you give advice you have to release it. Don’t demand that the person implement said advice. Give it with a good heart and let it go.

Try not to give unsolicited advice-sometimes a person just wants a sounding board. It might be a good idea to ask “Would you like some advice about how to deal with X, Y, and Z?”

Don’t give advice that is out of your comfort zone-be honest. Oftentimes we get so caught up in advice giving that we feign expertise in areas that we know nothing about. Tell your friend that you really don’t know. If you really want to offer them something then suggest a read in the subject area or refer out to someone who might.

As moms we are constantly given advice about childrearing. As single moms we are often given advice about childrearing and finding a partner in the same breath. Some of it is great! Thank you Pinterest! Some of it not so much…no, I’m not really interested in learning about how to keep a man happy from a doormat. I’m a little more interested in how to keep myself happy thank you. Sorry, not sorry! Which brings me to this advice:

Three things You Should Consider When Taking Advice

Consider the source-good advice can come from people who are successful and those who haven’t seen much success in said area. Is your source giving you how to advice or what not to do advice? Consider the source and decide if can you learn from this person’s mistakes or their successes. Good advice doesn’t always come from success. Learning what not to do might be even more valuable.

Is it practical?-sometimes advice is like a super long, complicated Pinterest recipe. You can pin it but will you make it? Look for suggestions that you will actually be able to incorporate into your life. You might even ask the giver “I know that worked well for you but how could I implement that into my situation?”

Take it with a grain of salt– most people give advice with good intentions. Jut like Oprah’s gift advice. Take the parts you want (if any) and leave the rest. Just because someone gives you a gift doesn’t mean you have to use it!

Until Next Post,

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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

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