Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On giving advice

Remember four things when giving advice:
An excerpt from an excellent post on how to give advice.

Actionable advice is best advice. Saying "speak up more" to someone who doesn't talk in meetings is not actionable; saying "say at least three things in the meeting" is more clearly actionable.

That is a good point to remember. Give actionable advice, actions to take rather than principles. Do it with a "because" linked to the principle. E.g. "Say at least three things in the meeting because you need to speak up more" ties together actionable advice with principle advice (and uses the because rule, that advice with the word "because" in it, is better absorbed).


Unknown said...

Also... advice is hardly ever wanted when someone is talking to you about their problems. Though advice in those situations can be given, it usually has to be done subtly, without the listener feeling as if you're telling them what they ought to do. :)

Stephen said...

There are three kinds of those conversations:

1. someone wants a listening ear.
2. someone wants help, not advice.
3. someone wants advice.

In about that order of frequency.

You've raised a great point.

Papa D said...

nosurfgirl's comment is one of the most commonly identified differences between men and women - the "solvers" and the "sharers". Men get told to "stop trying to solve a problem; just listen" a lot, but it does go the other way, as well. Often men really are looking for input toward a solution and get frustrated when women "just want to understand".

Stephen said...

I've a female friend, an older PhD, who was always baffled by the fact that when she wanted advice, the men she otherwise seemed to get along with the best always just listened in a sympathetic way.