I don’t know what it is about me, but as I’ve aged, I’ve become someone who people come to for advice. I probably get it from my parents, who are two of the wisest people I’ve ever known. But I know it helps that I don’t like forcing my advice or opinion on people.
Over the years, I’ve learned that asking one simple question before I offer advice (and sometimes my opinion) saves a world of hurt and prevents misunderstandings:
Do you want to know what I think?
It’s really that simple.
Here’s what asking that question does:
It covers my butt if someone doesn’t like what she or he hears. Since I asked you first, you really shouldn’t be mad at what I’ve just said. You sought out my advice, and I gave it to you.
It stops me from giving advice when my friend never wanted it. There’s a huge difference between venting to get advice and venting just to vent. This gives my friend the opportunity to say no, and it gives me the out so I’m not giving unwanted advice.
It gives my friend a minute to stop and think whether or not she or he wants to hear some potentially ugly truths. One of my friends once said she loves that I ask the question first because it gives her a chance to consider if she’s ready to hear my honest and often raw thoughts.
It gives me a second to collect my thoughts. I try not to interrupt my friends’ stories (though it’s hard sometimes!), so after I’ve heard everything and ask if I can share my thoughts, I can take a deep breath collect my thoughts and spill them.
I love giving advice, but I refuse to do it without asking first. The last thing I want to do is lose a friend because I opened my big mouth!