Social Skills with the Unity Stamp of Approval! #3

  • Kylaila
  • 07/20/2015 07:51 PM
Get Social! #3
Today: Giving Advice

Social interactions are a wonderful little thing,
but something many people struggle with.
The internet is a place seemingly full of socially awkward and shy people trying their best.
And while it is more comfortable online, it is easier to fall into traps.
Conversation still follows the same principles as in real life,
so here is a little help along the way!

Let us be honest for a moment - everyone loves giving advice. The easier the problem, the likelier we are to give our opinion on how we would deal with it.
We are also sometimes really enthusiastic about a new discovery of ours which we try to spread to anyone around us.
Yet we also hate accepting advice. It is very hard for us to mend our ways, accept possible wrongs and see from a different perspective.

Like we said in the support issue - at the end of the day, the person on the other side is making the decision, and the one taking the responsibility for it.
You can only help your friend do their thing, you do not do yours.

So what purpose does giving advice serve?

Advice on whatever it may be is showing a way of doing things - an option.
It is their choice to heed it or not.
Advice can be life-saving when you do not know what is best to do, have missed a vital option, or have a lingering uncertainty. But it can also be an annoyance when you have chosen your path and someone else just knows better.

So how do we do it? Whether someone specifically asks you, or whether someone is in a rut and you feel you could help them out, you can help them review their options, and give your own advice and experience.
Saying they "should do x" when they already hves a plan is not likely to cut it.

1. Hear Them Out

Ask for details - what are they struggling with?
What is the situation?

2. Ask Them About Their Process So Far

Please remember this one - what do they feel like doing?, what do they think they should do? (It is usually there!)

People will come to you for different reasons. But people have reasons to do what they do, they usually have already thought about what they should do, and sometimes they just do not know whether their favored choice is really the right one. In which case they are not really asking for any new advice, but just trying to get a second opinion, and checking whether you can support their decision.

3. Map Out Their Options

Go over the options they have - point out what it would do for them.
What could backfire?
What is the risk and what the possible result?
Is there anything you can add to the options?

4. Give Your Advice And Opinion

Now you can evalue what you have mapped out for them - say what you would do and why you would do it. Say what you have experienced for yourself and whatever you can add.

Telling your experience as an anecdote or story helps a lot. It shows what you did and why, and how it actually turned out. That makes it non-personal, as it is all about you, and has an actual grounding.
As far as influencing people goes .. anecdotal advice ranks really high, although it may or may not be reliable. Be prepared for their experience to be different from yours. However, it is a very good way to encourage someone who is hesitating out of fear, showing that it is hard but worth it and can end better than you would expect.

5. Support Any Decision

Now this is a tricky one to do whole-heartedly.
You know what you would do - but this is about trusting your friend to make the right decision for himself.
If you can, tell them you know they will make the right decision, and then let them make the decision.
This one will make them feel at ease with their options, and make it easier to really choose what is best for them.

There are times where you will have to make an effort to influence them, like when they are ill or depressed. I trust you realize to get help when things are going really wrong and are beyond their control.

If you know your friend is making a huge mistake - you can kick their ass. But even then, you cannot force them to come to a different conclusion.
Giving them room is essential for your points to get across. Keep that in mind.
Nobody likes to be forced to make a choice, nobody likes to feel they would lose your support if they decided a certain way.

If you are trying to give them advice of your own accord - you can still use the same steps.
Why do you think trying out something new would be good for them?
Ask them why is doing things a certain way, ask them whether they are content with the results and whether they tried different things before you shoot your advice.
Let them try it out and see for themselves.

And there you have it! Be a good influence to the ones around you!