May 26

The Art Of Giving Advice – Part 1

ArtofgivingadviceThe Art Of Giving Advice involves mastering the ability to offer suggestions while avoiding the resentment that often accompanies unwelcome advice.  Below are eight keys that are essential to practice if you truly want to become a master of giving advice without getting shot.

Art of Giving Advice Skill #1: “Listen First”
Skilled communicators take the time to “Listen First” before offering advice. They resist the temptation to hear the first few lines, decide
that they know what it is about and start giving advice. In addition to giving us the full picture, “Listening First” allows people to work out their own solutions, and creates openness to our suggestions.

Art of Giving Advice Skill Skill #2: “Acknowledge”, when needed 
When the issue at hand is complex or is emotionally charged, “Listen First” is not enough. We need to also paraphrase, validate, or respond
empathically before proceeding, and you will learn how to do each of
these. Skills #1 and #2 help you avoid the mistake of “Rushing to Solution.”

Art of Giving Advice Skill Skill #3: “Ask or Have” 
It is crucial to be sure the other person wants your advice. So either “Ask Permission” to give
advice, and proceed only if you get a “yes”, or “Have an Invitation” and
know that your advice is welcome. Unsolicited advice is a major
communication mistake. Of course, there is a “right way” and a “wrong
way” to ask permission, and you will learn how to do it right.

Art of Giving Advice Skill Skill #4: “Offer Without Insisting” 
Skilled communicators offer their advice and then let people decide if
it is right for them. Insisting on your advice being followed typically
comes across as arrogant, disrespectful and controlling. It is also
counter-productive, since “insisting promotes resisting.” You will learn
how to “offer” skillfully, and how to respond to the “yes”, the “no”
and the “lukewarm yes” that you get when you offer to give advice.

There can be an important exception to Skills #3 and #4, and 
that is if you have legal, moral or ethical responsibility for another.

Art of Giving Advice Skill Skill #5: “Calibrate”, when necessary 
“Calibrate” means “to measure”. Make sure that your advice is doable for
the other. Suggesting something that is beyond people’s abilities can
lead to frustration and giving up. “Just do it!” may be a good marketing
line for running shoes, but is typically a poor approach togiving
advice. You will learn important tips on how to Calibrate so that the
advice you give is right for the other.

Art of Giving Advice Skill Skill #6: “Check for resonance” 
Ask people if  your advice is right for them. By listening to any concerns or
additional information they raise, you get to fine-tune your input and
tailor it more closely to this person and these circumstances. This
helps you avoid the “illusion of solution”.

Art of Giving Advice Skill Skill #7: “Know and Honor Your Limitations” 
Speak about areas of your expertise, and be very cautious about giving
advice about things you do not know much about. Poor advice is much
worse that no advice. The sages of old counseled, “Teach your tongue to
say: I don’t know.” It is still sage advice.

Skill #8: “Check for completion”
Ask if the matter has been fully resolved. There may be other aspects that have not
yet been addressed. Some people, concerned about being perceived as
argumentative or time-wasters, will not raise those additional aspects
unless invited to.

In part two of this article on the art of giving advice I will explain four costly mistakes to avoid, as you master this important skill of effective communication.

© 2012 Bernard Uzi Weingarten

If you have found this article of value and want to explore these skills further and master them, I invite you to the first two sessions of my next Communicating Effectively With Compassion tele-course, FREE as my guest. Register at