The art of giving advice

Since I was invited to start writing an advice column, a common question running through my head has been, “What really is giving someone advice? What is advice and what should you do when you are giving or receiving it?” Advice is a dicey affair; it’s like speaking in metaphor, and it can be taken in many different ways. So, here are a couple of basic guidelines to follow when approaching the delicate and intimate animal we all know as “advice.”

Don’t give unsolicited advice. A common question that accompanies advice is, when is the right time to give it? The basic answer is only when you are asked. This is one rule that most if not all parents have broken at some time in their child’s life.

There are some people who walk around with a soapbox in one hand and a microphone in the other, thinking that everyone is in dire need of their all-knowing wisdom. We all have that one friend who just can’t help interrupting you and launching into an hour-long rant about what they think you should do about your boyfriend leaving the toilet seat up all the time.

Wait for the person to ask you for your opinion. I know the box is heavy, but try to hold back on dropping it.

When giving advice, a common mistake people make is starting their advice off with, “This is what I think you should do.” Good advice should be something that increases your options and broadens your perspective, not something that leaves you with no other choice.

Be careful whom you ask for advice because people tend to get very caught up with the advice they give and can get very invested in the person following it. It’s like a slap in the face if you choose not to take their advice and go in a different direction.

In the end, helpful hints should be taken with a grain of salt. Before going to other people, dig deep down inside yourself, consult your morals and listen to your instincts. You know what is best for you, and in the end, it is your decision.

In coming weeks, this column will attempt to answer your questions and concerns, but again, it is just my view on how you could handle the situation.