#008: Here is the Method That Finally Freed Me from Being an Offensive Advice Giver [Podcast]


Isn’t it true that the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy?  Aren’t we being helpful by pointing out the other person’s mistakes, so they won’t make them again?  What could be more loving than giving them advice for them to grow? Yeah.  I have felt the “love” of unsolicited advice and learned it is not loving.  It is usually selfish and destructive, especially when I do it.

I was a master at giving Offensive Advice.  Below is what cured my Offensive Advice problem.

Credit to Laughlin Elkind

One point to clarify, before going on.  Critic from a trusted friend, who you ask to help you grow, is amazing. The wise person listens to criticism and grows stronger, wiser and richer from it.

I am not talking about when I give loving advice to a Great Friend.  I am talking about giving selfish motivated criticism, because I believe I know more than they do.

4 points why it is so important to be wise and careful in giving advice.

1.  People won’t listen anyways and may turn on you.

Recently, like the last 8 months, I have been working extra hard to keep my mouth shut and listen more and not blurt out  my wise answers. Here is what I have experienced. The wise people in my life nearly every time in 2 to 7 days will come back to me and say something like, “I think I am doing this wrong. Do you have any advice to help me?” or “I have the solution. Here it is.”

For the not wise people in my life, I will wait that same amount of time and they won’t say anything.  When I stupidly ask them about the issue after 7 days, here is their typical response, “Prove to me what you are saying.  You are wrong.”  And often then they leave angry.

2.  They wouldn’t follow it even if they agree.

When someone agrees to a solution pointed out by you, very few actually follow through on it.  Why?  It didn’t come from within them. Solutions and changing one’s behavior requires internal motivation.  Your solution was an external input.

3.  They need to own the responsibility

When we start giving advice, we start to take responsibility for the solution or induce guilt.  When you believe the other person has the solution and needs to find it themselves, you push THEM not yourself to find the solution.  Once they see a solution, they own it.

4.  You don’t have the full story. 

You simply don’t know all the facts.  Even if you know most of the story, you still don’t know what is going on inside that person’s mind.

People need to know you care, before they care how much you know.  My mom is a master at this.  She loves, then loves and then loves some more.  When we hit a bump, guess who we call?  My mom.  Why?  Because we know she cares first.  We have a friend who is also a master at the art of a good question.  She asks tons of great questions to understand and not to advice.  We have listened to her advice more than others, because it comes after she has asked a bunch of questions first.

7 tips to avoid giving unwanted advice.

(The key:  Listen, Love, then Listen and Love)

1.  Keep quiet longer.

2.  Listen harder.

3.  Ask questions to understand, not to advice them.

4.  Don’t assume you know the answer or the motivation.

5.  Try to put yourself in their situation.

6.  Ask them what they want or what resolution they want from the situation?

7.  Ask yourself:  Are the words coming out of my mouth from a humble, loving posture or a wise sage?  Avoid the sage posture.

There are times to step in a help your trusted friends.  But beware how and why you are doing it. Be doubly careful when starting out making friends.  Listening and loving are a great starting point for learning how to make friends.

Thanks to the Jon McDermott; Station 514; Mong! for leaving a rating and review on the podcast.

We will answer any question about friendship. Please leave your question on the contact page.

Question:  Who do you take advice from and why?


  1. I had a wonderful experience of challenging a guy I didn’t know, in a group of people I really didn’t know.

    It was awesome. He got in my face, yelled at me, and basically explained why what he did was ok. I still think that I was right in what I said, but I guarantee you that he didn’t consider what I was trying to challenge him with.

    I say it was awesome because it has really changed the way I give advice. (I try to go SUPER slow…or I do nothing.) Love the 7 tips here…thanks!

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