Stop giving advice and learn how to provide meaningful support.

Giving advice rarely helps people. Instead, we need to learn how to provide real support to those we care about.

Photo by Jack Antal on Unsplash

STEP ONE: CREATE TRUST

It starts with creating an environment where your client, friend, family member or work colleague feels safe to share. They need to believe that you are listening. I think of it as an affirmation that the most helpful I can be is to just be present, not interrupt and stop those impulses to cut in and say, ‘I’ve been there before, this worked for me, therefore you should do this.’

STEP TWO: STOP PROJECTING AND START ASKING

Once trust is established, instead of offering advice ask questions. When we give advice, we are projecting our own reality onto another person and telling them to do what we would do. However, things can look very different from a removed vantage point and usually their reality — how they experience things — can be very different.

STEP THREE: OFFER SUPPORT

Finally, shift the focus to your relationship. Ask ‘How can I help?’ ‘What support do you need from me?’ This helps a person to think deeply about how they might want to have support, something we rarely take the time to do. I remember a long time ago when a mentor posed this question to me and I realized I didn’t even know what I needed from her. I had to stop and think about it for a few days and the answer turned out to be very simple — to listen to me and encourage me when I had moments of doubt.

Leadership Coach transforming creative professionals and entrepreneurs into flourishing leaders in work and life. Scholar of emotional intelligence.