Your friends told you about a negative situation. They felt stressed out over something they did or didn’t do. Being an “objective” observer, your natural instinct is to jump in and help. This feels right isn’t it, helping others?
You enthusiastically dish out advice and suggestions you think your friends should take. But how much of this help is useful to the intended object? When they ignore your advice, you feel hurt. Later on when they continue to complain about the same problem, you feel angry and lash out at them. “Why didn’t take my advice then? Why are we keep talking about the same thing and don’t do a damn thing about it?”
Do you really want to help people?
Then stop trying to “fix” them. Your harmless, well-intended advice is seen by as your way of correcting and coercing them into doing something against their will.
Even when they have deliberately asked you for help and welcome your advice but are they ready to do what you ask them to do? If they are ready, are they going to do it and commit to it?
There are two components or cycle of any advice.
1) Idea: Here is a new piece of information for your enlightenment.
2) Action: You go and do it and let me know the progress.
Remember the last time you tried to do something, not least to try something new or change your way of thinking? How successful were you? And these are the things you seriously wanted to change for yourself.
Why do you think someone else will heartily, readily accept what you have to say?
I have a preference for Extraversion in addition to owning a cluttered mind that can’t stop talking. Thus, I prefer to do more brain-dumping than to be a ventilator. When I let people vent on me, my brain would jump quickly to construct stories, connect dots, project my biography to their situation and then voila I know what they need to do.
Does it sound like you? Your advice most of the time is tainted by your agenda and your personal experience. Unless you established beforehand and that they pay you for your by-the-hour consulting service, you are not helping anyone with your advice.
But there is another form of helping that you can try. You can “coach” them instead.
It’s easier to be a coach than to be a consultant. Being a coach, you don’t tell people what to do. You don’t advise and suggest.
But if you don’t give people advice, how can they change?
They do that by first being ready to start changing their life. Then they come up with a clear goal or outcome they want to achieve with a specific course of actions that they also come up with. People commit to change if they are the one who know the outcome they want to achieve and design their path, thus owning the whole process.
What role do you play then? Where do you fit in this scheme of helping someone’s getting out of a rut, moving on from a bad experience or getting somewhere? You can put on a coach’s hat, walking alongside them and facilitating their explorations of dreams, needs, goals and thought the process to make change.
Coaching can take longer and requires more time thus most of the time we don’t do it.
But when you do that, you will get people to do things.
Coach but not give advice.
Listen and ask questions, not talk.