Giving advice is a tricky task. A lot of times people aren’t actually searching to hear what you have to say about a given situation. They want you to listen so they can think out loud. Occasionally, someone will open up and vulnerably ask for your opinion on a situation.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind if you find yourself in this position.
- Keep it short. Whenever people ask me for my opinion, they want me to cut to the chase. Make sure to articulate your thoughts completely, but don’t drag on. People’s attention spans lessen when you ramble.
- Be sensitive. Remember, it takes a lot of internal bravery to open up to someone. Going a little further, it takes even more for us to humble ourselves and ask for suggestions. Be aware of the other person’s feelings. Validate their emotions and make sure that their feelings are given the proper care.
- Listen thoroughly. The more you understand the situation, the better your advice will be. Getting a complete understanding of the factors involved helps you to make an accurate assessment and provide helpful feedback.
- Maintain balance. Try not to have bias when someone shares a concern with you. For example, if someone is frustrated with a friend, I ask myself what the other friend might think about the person I am talking to. It’s likely they both have valid points but are having a hard time achieving the balance. That’s where you can help.
- Think biblically, but creatively. Challenge yourself to communicate biblical principles without Bible thumping. In fact, I think the best advice-givers are those who can explain biblical truth in illustrations or subtleties. Stay true to what God’s authors meant when they pinned the Bible, and do your best to help he or she apply principles from God’s Word.
It’s always a blessing to listen to a concerned individual. Let’s be good stewards of the influence we have in those situations and commit to giving sound advice.