Archive for December, 2013

I am so sick of hearing about the kinds of things people say to others when they seek advice from them. Therefore I gathered a list of the kinds of things that will actually be helpful to say. So, here is my advice on

what to avoid when giving advice and what to say instead.


Do not say “I’m here for you”.

Many times this is said with good intent. However, to the person in need it may seem like an empty gesture. Instead ask them how you can be there for them and make a plan. For example, if they say they need company let them know, “I’m free Tuesday afternoon, lets go get coffee”. Stick with your plan and at the end of your coffee date ask them again, “What can I do to help” or “what do you need right now”. Repeat as necessary.

Do not tell them what to do.

Most likely, this person is being told what to do from everyone else and it is getting quite old. Instead remind them that they have gut instincts for a reason. Even though they may hear that little voice inside, it might be getting drowned out by everyone else’s voice. Remind them we have instincts for a reason and empower them to hear their own voice.

Do not judge them.

Many times you might have an opinion on something even if you have never been in that situation. And even so, we all react to things differently. Just because something worked out for you doesn’t mean it will work out for them too. Instead empathize with them. Try putting yourself in their shoes and tell yourself that you aren’t perfect either. If you are coming from a place of judgement then don’t offer advice.


Do not assume you know better.

If they are getting all kinds of advice from all different angles then they will be more confused than ever. Your advice might be just as good as someone else’s. Try looking at it from a wider lens by taking yourself out of the equation. Help them really look at all the different solutions and help them weigh out the pros and cons. Put your own advice in the pool but consider it just as worthy as the other advice. Chances are, by getting on the level of the person in need you will empower them to see the best thing for them on their own.

 Do not use their situation to better your own agenda/ or rather do not give them your personal opinion.

We all can have some pretty strong convictions on things and they range from political all the way to religious. Try to put your personal opinion to the side for a moment. If you cant do that then don’t offer advice. They don’t need someone else preaching at them. Instead, listen to them. Ask them questions in order to understand where they are coming from. Many times just talking about it will help them figure it out on their own.

Do not tell them, “everything will be OK”.

The last thing you need to hear when you are feeling down is hearing a generic statement that “Things will get better” or “Everything will be ok”. Instead let them know that you understand they are in a devastating situation and that they are going through a valley right now. Remind them that there is hope on the other side. Remind them that they will get through even though it may not feel like it at the moment.

Do not tell them you will pray for them.

If you want to go the prayer route then ask them what kinds of things you can pray for and then do it right there. Either pray with that person or on your own and let the person in need know you just prayed for them. Be specific about what you prayed for. Everyone knows that this statement can be said with the best of intent but is hardly carried out. If you both are prayer people then keep them on your prayer list and text or call every time you say a prayer for them. This shows the person in need that not only are you serious about helping them but that they can count on you in the future.

Do not tell them you are sending good/positive thoughts.

Let’s be honest, this really does nothing but helps you feel better about yourself. Instead actually send them “good thoughts” by mailing them a “thinking of you” card. This is a simple gesture but it can really lift their spirits.

Do not say “Let God work it out” or “It will work itself out”

Neither statement does any good so just avoid it all together. This also sends the message that you have no real intent to help. If you are both the religious type then offer a verse from scripture that might be comforting. If they aren’t religious and/or neither are you then point out another time in history that is a similar situation and talk about why it did or didn’t work out.

Do not give out unwarranted advice.

Just because you feel you have something valuable to say doesn’t mean that person is ready to hear it. Just sit back and listen and keep your mouth shut until they ask.

The key to giving out advice is empowering the person in need. You can not decide what is best for them, but you can help them figure it out for themselves. People in need really just need support and someone who can get on their level. If advice isn’t for you then simply being there for them can do wonders as well. Remember, this isn’t about you.

*If someone is talking about hurting themselves or others then seek professional help. But don’t stop being there for the person in need. They need someone there for them now more than ever.*

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