Updated: Jul 10, 2019
Do this, don’t do that, take this pill, do this diet, think this way, but not that way. Work out my way, not that way. Be strong, but not too strong. Stand up for yourself, but be vulnerable. Be the person I think you’re supposed to be, and think for yourself!
Ever feel that you’re being advised to-death!?
I’ve read lots of self-help books, articles and blogs by authors, bloggers, social media influences, reporters, multi-level marketing ‘experts’ and other coaches. Most have some good advice about ways we can live our best life. A few of them give their advice so emphatically and assuredly, that you are lead to believe that it’s the best advice ever! Right?!
In fact, these days it seems that if you have any kind of platform with a keyboard or camera, (Facebook, Instagram, blog, YouTube channel, etc.) you’ve got a way to share your wisdom with an audience! And give advice…
And yes, I can see the irony of me writing about giving/taking advice on my own blog! I might even offer some advice at some point! But you don’t have to take it! And I won't take it personal. Pinky swear!
I want to be clear here, I’m not talking about where to eat for dinner tonight kind of stuff… I’m talking about advice about your life, your lifestyle, behaviors, health, etc. And I’m not talking about solicited advice. If someone asks me ‘what are the best ways to be successful with a Whole30,’ I’m going to give my best advice on how to be successful with that.
I’m talking about the ‘unsolicited’ advice.
The kind where you’re grumbling about having to wear a swimsuit again, and your friend recommends you do this new fad diet, or the new workout program she heard about.
Or you’re talking about how stressed you are, and your co-worker insists that you try this new meditation app she found. She says it’s the ‘best thing ever’ for handling stress!
Are you going to take the advice? Probably not; especially if you don't ask for it.
When you're on the receiving end of this kind of 'input' how do you best handle it and still be kind? Knowing that you're likely not going to use the unbidden advice? Do you just say thanks? And move on?
When we are the friends, family or co-workers offering the advice, I believe that we’re coming from a place of being helpful. Offering something to someone because we honestly want to help them. But here’s the thing to remember - when we give the advice, we need to be aware that it’s likely not going to be taken, and it’s not personal. AND… it may not be received well, despite your best intentions.
So what is the best way to give advice that has the highest likelihood of being followed???
Be the change. Be the model. Be the good example of how this or that is working for you. When people see your success, they’re more likely to mimic you. You don’t have to say a word.
People are going to make changes when they are ready, despite what we think their timeline should be. And they're going to make the change in the way that works for them, which may or may not be what would work for you.
And if the people you're advising are in a situation that they're struggling with, what they may need more than anything is empathy. Someone to just listen to them talk it out without your ideas of what is best for them.
Advice is such a tricky thing, even really good, solid gold, full-proof, no-fail advice. It’s only good if it’s followed, and in the end, it's mostly about the person giving it anyway. I have had many conversations with people, both in personal relationships and with clients in a coaching relationship, where I can opine what that person needs to do in order to reach their goals. But should I offer that to them?
Not at all.
With my clients, if I tell them what to do, or what I think would work for them, the impact will not be nearly as effective as it will be when they come up with their own plan, their own advice to follow in their own time.
This is why health coaching is such a powerful and long lasting tool! With my coaching, I use proven behavior change techniques to walk each person through a process to help them figure out why they want to change, what exactly they want to change and together we come up with the how! I might offer resources, with their permission, but will never advise my clients!
So what about my personal relationships? Well… that’s more difficult. BUT… If there is a situation where I think my experience or knowledge could help them, I try to always ask if they'd like my advice on the topic. If they say no, I stay quiet. But if they say yes, I offer up my advice, with the knowledge that all I can do is offer, and it’s up to them what to do with it. I do my best to provide love and support and don’t take things personally when they don’t follow my advice - it’s not about me after all! I may not be that great about my ‘advice giving/not giving yet, but I’ll always continue to try, and learn, and strive to be a better than I was yesterday.