Many of us like to give advice. Some of us do it for a living.
How well people take our advice depends on two things. Trust and context. If they don’t trust us, of course they won’t trust our advice. Even if they trust us, we must show them that we understand their context and the advice we provide is right for their situation.
How can we show them that we understand their context? Ask questions.
Sometimes the issue is so clear that we absolutely know the perfect advice to give. But if the other person is not ready to hear the advice, it won’t do anyone any good.
So my advice on giving advice is to ask questions first. Three “clarifying” questions should usually do it. Seek to understand the situation, the context, the dilemma. Ask without judging, without secretly imbedding a suggestion. When a person believes you understand, they can now hear your advice.
Even if you already know the answers, the process of asking the questions and thoughtfully listening to the answers before you give your advice builds trust, understanding, and demonstrates that you care. Now the ground is fertile enough for you to plant your advice.
Are you in the habit of asking questions before you give advice? Have you disciplined yourself to hold back until the other person knows you understand their situation?