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Creating Successful Leaders

By Margaret Smith, UXL:
As a career coach, friend, and mother of two, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve given a lot of advice in my time. It’s also safe to say that I’ve received a lot of advice that’s helped me on my way. But what good is all of this exchange of information and opinions if the advice you receive or give is unwanted or flippant? In order to make sure that your role as advisor is a positive and helpful one, I’ve pulled together some pointers of advice giving.

How to Give Advice

1. Make sure that the person is actually looking for advice.We’re all guilty of a little therapeutic venting here and there. Make sure the person in question isn’t just seeking an understanding listener with empathy and compassion.

2. Be an attentive listener before doling out the ‘you should’s. Never assume that you know exactly what is going on, or the needs of someone else. Ask important questions before making suggestions.

3. Try to imagine the situation as if it were your own life. It’s so easy to think we know the solution and downgrade a problem when it’s not our own. Give someone else’s issue the weight it deserves.

4. Give your advice a mental test run. What will be the repercussion of taking your advice? Are there any unconsidered results that would reshape your suggestion?

5. Repeat after me: “There is no such thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.” Life is not an exact science, and no situation is as simple as it seems. When you catch yourself seeing in black and white, take a step back and readjust your focus.

6. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have an answer or solution. If you’re not comfortable giving advice, or you feel like the issue is beyond your expertise, say so. Remaining honest with the other person builds trust and allows your future input to hold that much more weight.

7. Before offering advice, accept that all that is in your power is to offer the best advice and information that you can. Accept the fact that the decision is not yours to make and that the person comes from a different perspective. Ultimately, the choice belongs to them—always respect this.

As a final note:

Giving advice can be a great way to make a positive energy deposit in someone else, and it allows you to help nurture the life, career, and experiences of another person. Remember to give the power of advice the respect and full consideration it deserves.


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