Day 139 – How to give good advice

Giving advice. I don’t know how I feel about it. I have friends who ask for advice. What do I say? I try not to overthink it, but I also want to carefully consider my answers. Sometimes I hope don’t take what I say to seriously, but it does come from a good heart. Having said that, I am currently writing up some notes into a coherent document with ideas about leadership.

It’s harder than I thought it would be. I had all these ideas about the summer. Little notes written down in a Word file hidden in a folder with a name that I didn’t remember. So when I found those notes, I needed to write them up in piece of sound advice with a little nice note. How do I sound honest without sounding pretentious? I guess that’s what makes written advice so hard. You can’t engage in lively feedback discussions. It’s just your thoughts about something and the only thing I can do is hope that it will help someone else in their job.

But it got me thinking.. How do I give advice? What makes for great advice? When is something useful to hear and when is it not? Take yesterday’s blog about how a home can tell you something about how someone is feeling. The first step is learning how to read people and to read their surroundings. The second step is the advice part. How do you deal with the information you are getting from that person? Even with the best intention, bad advice can be really painful. Although is there such a thing as bad advice if it comes from a good heart?

All these thoughts trigger me. I wish there would be something as a 10-step model on how to give good advice. I didn’t Google it, but I actually think there are such models out there. If you do, let me know if there are any good ones. For me, this blog has been an exploration of advice giving. Because I process my thoughts according to what happened in a day and then I am trying to say something sensible about it. I guess that’s what advice really is: just an honest reflection of how you perceive something that has been said or done.

That also means that advice is always coloured. It always has a filter on it. It’s never neutral. It can never be black or white. Unless you give advice to a 15-year-old boy on how to do laundry. Some advice on separating colours might be useful there I found out from personal experience. But please remember that if I write down advice on my blog in the future or give you advice through a text or a conversation. It’s coloured by my view on the world. I am not a saint or an angel. I don’t know everything. I haven’t been through in exactly the same way compared to what you have been through. I am not you.

As much as I love being asked for advice, I realise how incredibly difficult it is, to give sound advice. It’s a skill that I’ll be practicing for a long time, I am afraid, and probably never completely will master. And that’s okay. Then someone else can give me some advice on that.

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