What constitutes good advice?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Kjs, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    This was a question I was asked. I have not given an answer yet, as I am not sure what that would be. The person who asked this is a male friend, married but not children. He is concerned about giving advice to his god-child, a senior in high school.
    He asked for my opinion in this matter. he also added..

    what constitutes good-advice ? In order for any
    advice to be well received, and listened to . . . what frame of
    mind does the "advisor, and advisee" have to be in ?

    The best advice I ever received, did not even affect me at the time. Not until I, myself have lived through those life experiences. Then those words of wisdom forever embedded in my mind came to light.
    Is it not considered advice after the fact? must one live and learn lifes lessons to give advice?

  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I guess good advice would take into account the situation and the person, be well thought out and tempered with love and compassion.
  3. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I agree with tiredmommy, but I would also say the best advice at times cannot be taken in until we experience certain things on our own with our own eyes. Sometimes even this best advice is not ready to be taken in by the listener. We are all here looking for advice - we are open to it. Not everyone is at that stage in their lives. Love, compassion and understanding is where it starts, but the old adage holds true - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You can be well-meaning, full of love and concern, and give the most wonderful advice in the world, but if the recipiant is not in a place to receive said advice, it's useless advice.

    Obviously the advicee needs to not be feeling defensive, but be feeling open and trusting in the advisor.

    While your friend may be speaking from concern and love, his godson has the will to take it or leave it.

    He has a better chance of getting through to him if they have a good relationship where the godson trusts and likes his godfather. If the godson sees his godfather as just "another annoying adult" in his life, he doesn't really have a prayer!

  5. Jena

    Jena New Member


    interesting question. i think that if someone is asking for advice then they want the advice. yet although they ask for it does not mean that once given they will accept it with an open heart.

    i think alot of us at times, i know i do will ask for advice when my heart knows the answer yet i'm testing the waters, want feedback so to speak. yet sometimes the advice or true answer to my problem lays in my heart it isn't what i want to do.

    alot of us i think also have to live our own lives as stated and go down our own roads make our own mistakes and don't always take the advice given in certain situations.

    all depends on the person taking the advice and one giving it i think.

    ok i haven't slept much and not sure if that makes sense.....lol

    another thought that holds true for myself especially is if family gives me advice yet it's done in an abrasive aggressive manner of more matter of fact and telling me what to do i shut down and do not listen. i find that when someone shares their tale, then states what they have learned then throws it out i'm more open to hearing it and taking from it what i need.

    i often find here to be very validating and very reassuring and incredibly helpful. most times the advice is given in such a loving and supportive way without judgement. which to me is key
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I think that there are 2 keys to giving good advice:

    The advice giver--needs to be speaking from genuine interest, and not have a hidden agenda. If advice is given for any reason other than a genuine desire to help, then it's not going to be well received. Even if the advice is good, the agenda of the giver will taint it.

    The advice receiver--needs to have an open mind and be ready to hear the advice, if not necessarily ready to act on it.

    I have a friend who asks for advice all the time. But, what she really wants is for someone to give her permission to do whatever she has already decided. Rather than saying, I'm thinking of doing X and I would like your opinion, she says, Here's the situation, what do you think? Then if what I think doesn't follow what she has already decided to do, she argues with me. I have stopped giving her advice, because that's not what she's looking for. She's looking for validation and permission. Nothing wrong with either, but it's a different thing.

    Hope this helps,
  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I agree with trinityroyal's 2 keys to giving advice. I hate to be told what to do, so even if it's prefaced with "I'm just trying to help", I don't want to hear it.
  8. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    How do you offer advice when it is not asked?
    Such as offering advice to a new college student.

    Reflecting on myself I see:

    If advice, whether asked for or not has come with the beginning statement...
    I would...
    You should..
    I become defensive, and depending on the person or situation, I may even go the direct opposite.
    The best advice in my life has come in the form of simple statements that were made.
    I have been thinking about this, and many people I ask laugh and tell me that is a silly question.
    Personally, I realize that the best advice I received I didn't even know I was getting. And whether I was to young and didn't understand, or whether I just disregarded....It wasn't until I lived those life experiences that I could truly understand. I had to get there first.
    I do agree that when a person asks for advice, or an opinion, they already have a sense of what needs to be done. Either looking for permission, or just another prospective.
    This is a very hard question. Asking me because I am a parent vs an adult that is not a parent...heck - I can't advise my own adult son. I can however be a role model and hope he can act on the morals and values he has been exposed to.

    any more thoughts?
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I think it is all the things that have been said here. Advice given with a good heart, taking the person in mind...however, it might very well not have an impact until the person is ready to receive it and/or has had experiences that allow them to receive it. I also very much agree with the idea of modeling. However, the one caveat that might help, in my humble opinion, is if you are able to incorporate a very good analogy when giving the advice. Perhaps a personal experience or one of someone you know. I know people can sometimes have an awakening moment vicariously through the eyes of others.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    is the advice:

    Something you would tell a child?
    Something that you would tell your best friend?
    Something that would hold up in a court of law?
  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    My Godson comes to me regularly for advice, to vent, to confide in, and just to feel out ideas and thoughts he's having about his life, his relationship, pretty much everything. The fact that he comes to me drives my sister absolutely insane, but I wouldn't think of turning him away. I love him.

    Because of my estranged relationship with his mother, loco sister, I was very cautious when my Godson would come to me. I would do a lot of listening. I would validate most of his emotions and only if he asked for them, I would give him my thoughts. Our relationship has evolved and grown a lot over the past 3-4 years. He's a difficult child, in case I didn't mention that.

    He told me that the reason he comes to me is because I LISTEN and when I offer him advice, I speak to him as a peer, not as a younger person. He says he feels respected; that even if I disagree with his choices, I don't make him feel stupid. BUt most of all, he feels comforted by the fact that I keep everything we talk about under wraps and private.

    I also ask a lot of questions to get a better idea of just what's going on with him on that particular day or that particular moment. My Godson is a confused young man and a little immature - I think he is really struggling with being an adult and figuring our what's expected of him. Rather than telling him what he needs to do, we just kind of talk until he comes to it on his own. Usually it works out, other times he flubs up.

    There have been times when I've been worried about his safety and said so - but with love and compassion being key elements in my statements.

    Also, the tone of voice is very important, in my opinion. His parents speak to him as a parent to a child. My nephew is 26 years of age. I speak to him as another adult and he once stated that he likes that. My feeling is that even adults make stupid mistakes and need guidance along the way...even me at 45 years of age. I try to keep my voice calm and my responses as neutral as possible. I am flattered that he thinks so much of me to confide his most personal thoughts in me.

    So, my thoughts are that what constitutes good advice is to first be a good listener. Learn and understand what motivates the person your friend wants to give advice to. Be compassionate and realize that there is no "one size fits all" to how we each live our lives. Offering advice and telling someone what they 'should' do are two different things and your friend needs to temper his need to impress upon his Godson what he 'should do' with what his Godson may need from him overall.

    That said, I have to say that there have been times when I don't think easy child, difficult child or my Godson or anyone else is really hearing my words of wisdom (hah!) and then later they can repeat something I've said verbatum! So, I think they are always listening, they just need to find the right time to use what you've said to them in their own sweet time!
  12. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    A lot of it is the delivery. As Jo said, talking to the other person as a peer, rather than from a lofty perch of experience vs inexperience, or parent to child, seems to make a huge difference in how well advice is received.

    The only time I start out with "I would..." is if someone asks me, "What would you do?"

    I am very uncomfortable with giving advice in general. I would rather give my opinion, or my assessment of a situation, and then leave it up to the other person to find their way.

    It's a delicate path to tread.