Humans seem to be pre-programmed to see every conversation as an opportunity to state our five cents worth. We seem to be born with a built-in little soapbox which we need to constantly remind ourself to get off from. Maybe it's just me, who knows.
But we often get approached or approach someone not to get an answer from them, rather with a hope that through probing questions you can formulate your own clarity on how to solve your own issue. The person on the other end just needs to be more like a therapist who listens and asks questions, than a boss who give orders.
If you aren't a know expert of the topic the person is discussing, you should already know that you are filling the role of a sounding board for that person. They are most likely just venting or clearing up their own thoughts on the matter, listen and question is the best response.
As soon as the words "You should.." creeps into your thoughts, stop and backup. Those two magical words have killed the value of countless conversation and well intended suggestion in the world.
Strange how two words can change human nature on a fundamental basis. And yet giving and receiving advice talks to two interconnected human needs. We all yearn for receiving guidance as well as giving guidance. Both should be done on a humble basis (remember the soapbox), it is difficult to remove the "I know better than you" sting from advice otherwise. The result of which will make the advice fall on deaf ears 100% of the time.
Also don't promise people your advice will work. Ever. It will return as the boomerang it is and the result will not be a happy ending for any of the parties concerned.
There is always a lesson to be learned or some insight to be gained. It all comes down to both parties being aware of the rules of engagement. As the person who asks, state your intentions clear before starting the conversation, and the person who enables the guidance to stand with their feet firmly on the ground.
What advice can you give on, uhm well, giving advice?
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Werner du Toit
Author of "The Road is not All Uphill"