Don’t give advice before applying it to yourself

It’s so easy to give advice to other people. You are objective and see them running like a hamster in a cage. They don’t even see that for themselves.

Along the years, I could see other people problem in a glimpse and also the solution. So I would jump on the wagon to help them. Only it never did… why?

I think I know why now. It’s because I was giving them advice I didn’t apply.

You’re better than them

When you see someone else’s problem the urge is to tell them what they should do. Sometimes people will come to you with questions about their life and you will answer right away.

Then, you are most likely to notice push back, those push back, you often see them as excuses. They find another reason not to do the right thing that can be done tomorrow if they really wanted to.

And you’re most likely right. But being right doesn’t help them as they don’t apply the change and express “excuses”.

The reason is because giving someone an advice will make you the one who knows against the one who doesn’t know yet. It’s a position that we’re not comfortable with.

The more you’ll explain, the more “excuses” will arise. They’ll always find a way to show you wrong, even if you’re right. So if you have to spend 30 minutes explaining a seemingly simple sentence, it’s not worth your time in the first place.

Lead by example

This is the most powerful step. When you think deeply about it, the solution you can give to someone are only based on your own knowledge. And you are more likely to give a solution that is suitable to you.

So instead of wasting time to convince someone, and if applicable (like a business idea, or how to reignite the couple) do it first. So you don’t have to spend 30 minutes proving a point based on assumptions. You will be able to have proof of what you say.

Listen

I think it’s the most difficult part. Listening without commenting, judging or giving advice. You can however ask for more details in order to understand the situation but that pretty much stop there.

The most difficult is always the easiest one to explain. I leave you with that and hope you’ll practice a bunch.

Wait until asked

Once you done all the previous steps, they will eventually come to you. If they don’t, that’s fine too because you are not wasting your time with someone who doesn’t want help.

Once they come to you. Here’s the trick… ask questions again. Find a way to lead them towards the solution or the root cause of the problem only with questions that they will answer. Do not tell them the answer.

The reason why is very powerful: if you tell them straight away it removes the pain of facing the issue a little bit deeper. Therefore it might remove the emotion that will lead to action.

And the advantages of only asking questions are mind blowing to me:

  • you can get more of their vocabulary (is it a positive one? A self destructive one? A victim mentality one?)
  • You can see if they’re ready to act. Sometimes they ask thinking that you will give them a magic pill. Therefore when they block to a question, to a paradox, most likely to something they don’t want to let go. It is your time to let go and tell them: “well, I see that you want X but you’re not ready to leave Y. Which is fine, but I don’t see how you can get X while still holding on Y. After all, you might need Y more than you think.”. And they might come back to you some other day or deal with it on their own.
  • You can ask them if you want them to be their witness and check on them at some specific dates that they will decide

They are many others things that you can do. The only one I would recommend not do: is to give the answer.

This step has so much more to offer as it is the true moment to unlock something. I might write a specific article about it.

Conclusion

If your ultimate goal is to help the person in front of you, then you should put them first. And to do that, you just have to let them be.

It’s very difficult to do, but no one really changes until they decide it to. So the only thing you can really do is to wait for them to come to you.

Your turn

As usual, I’m very interested about what you have to say about it. So here are my questions to you:

  • Was it useful?
  • Do you have a friend in mind? What kind of issues they have?
  • Are you ready to apply the advice on yourself before giving it to someone?
  • Do you want a more detailed post one the last step? Explaining your approach and understanding their infliction point?

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