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How to Give Advice to Others

February 2nd, 2008 by Ryan

Have you ever seen one of your friends or family doing something wrong and you tried to tell them the "right" way to do it?  Chances are, that they didn't respond to well to your "advice" and even resisted or resented your help.  

Why is it so hard for people to take good advice?  Don't they see you care about them and want the best for them?

I've wrestled with this notion for many years and I finally understand the reason.

The problem is not with the advice, or necessarily the person receiving it; the problem is the way in which it is given.   Let me explain.

It finally clicked after watching the Dog Whisperer on The National Geographic Channel.  The show follows Cesear Milan, a professional dog trainer, while he visits ordinary people who have out-of-control dogs and trains them how to train their dog.

One episode featured a dog that was born with only 2 back legs.  This dog had to hop around using its chest as a front leg and would often lash out at other people (besides the owners) who tried to pet it.

When Cesear heard this, he understood immediately what was wrong.  He said something to the effect of this: "The dog doesn't see itself as handicapped, we do.  The dog accepts himself exactly the way he is.  When other people come to pet him, they start to give him love and affection but then they also bring the energy of "ah, you're handicapped you poor thing" which is a sympathy-type energy.  It's like a mix of love and poison which still ends up being a negative energy."

This is one of the most profound things I've ever heard.  Anytime you are experiencing a negative emotion in response to how a person is or is behaving, you are generating within you an unpleasant energy.

When you feel worry, sympathy, anger, frustration, etc. toward another person, you are creating a negative energy.  When you feel this way and then try to give advice to them, you are trying to give them that energy.

Let me ask you, if someone wanted to give you the energy of guilt, or shame, or worry, would you take it? 

No way.

Does it matter if the energy was spruced up with some helpful words?  Not really.

All words are good for really, is for us to agree on what type of energy we intend to communicate to each other.  The majority of this energy, however, is communicated through our own state (our body language, voice tone, facial expression etc).  Research indicates that up to 93% of communication is through things other than our words.

So while you may be "giving great advice" with your words, your state may be giving something else.

Think back to the last time you tried to give advice to someone.  What was your energy like when you were talking to them?  Was it from a place of love, compassion, and understanding or were you frustrated, angry, or worried about their choice? 

In the words of Abraham, "You can't worry about someone and love them at the same time.  They are two different energies." 

Instead of becoming frustrated or worried, see if you can be completely at peace with where they are and the way they are. 

A good way to start is to summon the energy of compassion: 

1) What part of them can you appreciate in this situation?

2) Once you find it, feel it for a little while until you are feeling love for them.

3) Then look at it from their perspective.  Do you see why they want what they want?

4) Consider these questions: 
Can you honor and accept their choice even if you do not agree with it? 
Do you trust the universe to work out in the end? 
Can you see that what might be right for you may not be right for others?

5) How you can share your perspective while feeling this compassionate energy?

Let me give you an example.  One of my family members recently found out they had high blood pressure.  I knew there were various lifestyle choices she could change immediately to fix the problem.  I wanted to tell her about various foods to eat and which to avoid, I wanted her to start meditating, and so on.

The old me would have became frustrated and said "You have high blood pressure because you eat crappy foods, watch the news all day, and don't exercise." 

Although that is all true, the energy in the statement is a reflection of myself.  It's the energy of blame, guilt, and shame at one's self.  In this moment, I am not accepting myself and I am directing this energy to her by not accepting her where she is. 

My advice to her is actually me trying to save myself.  It's my frustration and blame towards myself, not compassion.

Instead, I understand that at one time I was doing many things that were not very healthy for me.  I also understand that she simply doesn't understand that those activities are unhealthy for her. 

I know that deep down, she wants to heal herself and be healthy and happy.  So I make this last statement the basis for my approach and my energy to her. 

I sit her down and tell some of the things I have recently learned and that if she is interested I could tell her more.  I explain some of ways that I have improved my life through meditation and nutrition and teach her how to use them, all the while feeling love and appreciation for her.

The more I tell her, the more receptive she becomes, and the more committed she becomes. 

This is because I was using the power of example rather than the force of knowledge.

By utilizing this approach, you can improve your communication with your girlfriends, friends, family, coworkers; everyone. 

Remember, all advice you are giving is a reflection of yourself.  By working on accepting yourself fully and completely in this moment, you will better be able to help others do the same.   

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28 Responses to “How to Give Advice to Others”

  1. Ariel Says:

    Outstanding post!

  2. Steve Says:

    Great article and a great site πŸ™‚

    Many thanks


  3. Alex Kay Says:

    Hello Ryan,

    I have recently had a similar discussion with my dad, and just as you “would have done”, I used the force of knowledge.

    As I should have predicted, my “advice” didn’t work at all.

    This post was great, I think I’ll go talk to him later today… With a new energy.

    I’m sure it’ll work.


  4. Lauxa Says:

    Hi Ryan, really liked the article. I stumbled over here and wanted to compliment you on your site layout and graphics… this is the most beautiful PD site I have seen yet. I bet the article you just wrote could be applied to other difficult conversations like religion and politics, thanks for giving me something to think about.

  5. Tuplad Says:

    Hell YEAH! I had this realization a while ago aswell. Today, I don’t even BOTHER giving advice to ANY ONE. Fuck it, it’s just UA anyway. When someone comes to me and complains or does his story, I just listen, I don’t say anything, I only listen, I’m not going to prescribe to sympton. I might be prescribing it in my head, but I won’t verbalize it. Compassion all the way.

    Before giving advice I first ask myself: “Will it help him ?” Is that person a retard that will just cry about stuff and actually not do shit about it. It’s the energy vampire that blames everything around him for his experiences but not himself πŸ™‚ So: Will it help him, will he listen, will he do anything about it, does he NEED the advice ? And a couple of others, if I’m allright with the answer, I’ll ask: “Hey, want to hear my take on it ?”. Fair/fair πŸ™‚

    Nice article!

  6. Bart Says:

    Ryan, well put. I reflected and have noticed that an old version of me used to offer “help” as a way to prove superiority and declare my limitless knowledge.
    Everyone’s problems became a way for me to assert myself onto others, and it was like searching for them to approve of me. If only I could find their problems and solve them, then they’d love and value me!

    No wonder it wasn’t changing people for the better!

    Now, I try to do similar things that you mentioned to help. Although frequently do otherwise, I like to tap into their inner radiance and make it shine. I reflect often on the root word of education, which is educari, which means to draw out like you draw out water from a well.

    Anyway, on the flipside, how can we better accept the lessons that people are trying to teach us?

    How do you guys take advice that may be great but falls on the ears like a nagging hyena?

    How do you screen out the haters, and tune into the stuff that could really help you -keeping in mind that is very possible that the stuff you don’t want to hear from the rudest people can be the absolute best medicine for your situation?

    I found that most of the commenters have great thoughts, and I look forward to some gold from you guys and gals.


  7. Stefan Says:

    Nice! Excellent article.

  8. Ryan Says:

    Thanks Ariel, that means a lot, looking forward to seeing your new blog.

    Alex, yeah it’s very intuitive to tell someone what to do, even though I became aware of this, I still need to practice compassion constantly until I live it automatically.

    Lauxa, I appreciate the kind words on the design πŸ™‚
    Hey Steve, glad you stopped by.

    Whatup tuplad, good to have ya back. Listening is a great skill to have, it really puts a lot of the power back into your hands.

    Stefan, it’s good to hear you liked it.

    Bart, Yes I had some very similar experiences giving people ‘help.’ With guys like us who are always out to learn and grow, it’s very easy to think that others are the same way.

    As for how to handle other people when they are giving you advice with that negative energy, I usually try to interrupt their state or pattern first, then have a conversation.

    I focus on maintaining my state, then helping them realize the state they are bringing to the conversation, (in a tone that is compassionate and free of blame anger, etc.). Then I try to condense the lesson I can learn from them, as they usually have another perspective that we haven’t considered.

  9. Jared Says:

    A good post. I recently reflected and realized that when I mentored my subordinates, I was advising them on my own shortcomings. I had failed to take into considerations their strengths and weakness during my coaching.

    Someone once told me “A good coach is someone who is able to accept himself first.”

  10. The 4 Stages of Personal Development | Yang Town Says:

    […] Eben Pagen recommends that as soon as you learn something, teach it to someone else.  You will be FAR more likely to remember it plus you get the goodwill associated with helping others (just remember how to give advice). […]

  11. Asia'h Epperson Says:

    giving advice to loved ones is seldom the easiest thing to do in life..sometimes, it is easier to via a professional with credibility. even though the advice could be the same…

  12. Ryan Says:

    Jared, that’s a great point. When a coach can accept himself, he will be much more allowing of other’s mistakes which can lead to better guidance.

    Asia (or Jared I should say), it’s definitely a challenge. A way that you can get the same benefit of a professional is to simply tell the other person a new concept that you learned from x professional and indirectly give them the advice. That’s an easy way to do it.

  13. Glen Rees BSc, ND: Your Spiritual nutrition reasearcher Says:

    Nothing is difficult to say when it truly comes from your heart (mind) & NOT your head (mind).
    Too many men have learned (by example- often from their fathers/older male siblings) to live too much in the business-mode(head mind) of striving & acheiving ‘cos thats how we men are measured.
    By the size of our business & NOT the size of our hearts or relationships.
    Women are much better at this & tend to live longer because of it.
    So sure, follow your head -fine, BUT be ruled by your heart to speak openly, freely, TRUE-LY.
    For you can BS your head, but you cannot BS your heart: For it knows. it just does!

    Warmly Glen F Rees

  14. adi Says:

    thanks for the example, I am so happy

  15. Meliza Says:

    The best friend to give good advice is patience and of course after listening in order to analyze the situation. excellent article. Greetings

  16. Heather @ Mortgage Loan Modification Says:

    When I first read the Title “Girlfriend Training” program I was a little taken but I am sure they have really good things in there to say. I can safely say that I am not a good receptor of advice and need to be much better about it when someone brings their advice to my attention. I think if everyone had a chance to read this article we could communicate better. Men want to solve our problems and give advice but sometimes my advice is just to listen. Thanks for the info!

  17. Hugh Kuenzi Says:

    I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702

  18. Perth Says:

    Nice Work Ryan πŸ™‚ All your article convey thought provoking messages. Off to ponder πŸ™‚
    .-= PerthΒ΄s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  19. Bench Mejarez Says:

    Hey!, I’m not a good advicer but now since I already read your article, men!Now I think I can!.. (^_^) great site!! I will continuesly read all off the stuff you have here..

  20. Kelly@ crazy hamster Says:

    Maybe they just can’t put down their pride and take the help you offer.

  21. Diva Castillo Says:

    There is nothing wrong n giving advice to other people but when you are in that situation, you cannot do it by yourself and you also rely from other people.

  22. Nd Says:

    I’m immensely grateful to you for sharing this article. Very useful in marriage and other relationships. Would I be right to say that one should refrain from giving advice if it cannot be done with love and compassion?

  23. Ryan Says:

    Hi Nd,

    Thanks for the good words. You’re right about the compassion, that is the big one that you gotta have otherwise the advice given will often backfire.

    There is a place for love coming through in the form of truth, which can be very strong and direct. The key evidence of whether it is Truth or just your own projections is what happens afterwards. If you feel guilty for coming on too strongly, and they secretly resent you, then you were projecting all your emotional baggage onto them and trying to get them to change.

    On the other hand, if you speak from the perspective of “we are both on the same side, it’s just this fear/anger/grief that is mucking things up so let’s fight it together” then you can be strong but the other person will appreciate it afterwards, your relationship will improve, and mutual respect will grow.

    When you are aligned with your own center, have an open heart, and have deep compassion for the person you are interacting with, you can be direct and powerful and really help them grow. It’s similar to surgery…your cutting can heal them or hurt them, depending on your precision.

  24. Tim l Groom Speeches Says:

    This was a wonderful article. I have to add your site to my favorites.


  25. Thomas Says:

    Exactly. It is in the way we give our advice that is the key. No matter how right or correct your advice if you do not include compassion and sympathy they’ll just end up on deaf ears.

    Thomas M.

  26. Wendy Says:

    Love this, this is so true. I have had numerous problems with my sister and I know now that it’s because I judge her so much when I give her advice. This is like a light switch turned on for me, cos I give advice with negative vibes a lot! I can learn from this.

  27. Glennda Says:

    Well laid. I can’t accept the fact that people love me only because I’m a handicap. What if I’m not? Would they still accept me? No wonder why disabled person doesn’t want to accept sympathy from others.

  28. kevin Peterson Says:

    This is such great advice. I too have switched to giving an example rather than trying to tell people what to do..for the most part!! It’s still a work in progress as I learn this new approach.
    Thanks for the great post

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