Remember the last time someone came to you for advice? They were in a difficult situation and paralyzed with indecision. They asked for your help because they trust you, your insight and, importantly, your discretion. But difficult decisions don't always have easy answers. As good as you are, sometimes you don’t have the answers they need.
And that’s when you remember the keys to giving great advice: listening and reflecting.
Listening to what the other person has to say is important. But often, what’s more important is what they’re not saying. You need to carefully observe the non-verbal cues (body language) they’re sharing, and listen for language that hints at words and ideas they’re not expressing.
As they describe the problem and the options, listen for pauses, subtle sighs, flashes of excitement, and moments where they sound resigned to their fate. Listen to the words they choose and the scenarios they describe. Take mental notes of what they’re not sharing.
As an astute listener, you’ll gain insight into what they’re thinking and feeling - even if they don’t consciously recognize and acknowledge their own thoughts and emotions.
As you listen, look for opportunities to reflect what they say back to them. This assures the other person that they have your full attention. But more importantly, it lets them process and react to their own words and position. It also allows them to shift from being the primary actor, where it’s hard to think objectively, to being an observer, where it’s easier to critique and comment.
If reflecting their spoken words is all you do, you’ll be considered a great listener. But you can be even more helpful if you also reflect back what you don’t hear them say.
Ask almost any successful person, and they’ll say they’re at their best whenever they follow their instincts and intuition. Ask them about the main cause of their past failures, and they’ll likely say it was because they didn’t heed that intuition. Everyone has this inner guidance; and each of us, at times, fails to listen to it.
Most often, people become paralyzed with indecision because they don’t listen to themselves. When you’re asked to help someone in this position, your role as advice-giver is to help that inner voice be heard. This is also your opportunity to use your experience to dispense advice on how they can follow through on their decision and offer encouragement to make it happen.
To give amazing advice, reflect back to others what their intuition is saying - even if they can’t hear that inner voice or are ignoring it. By helping them recognize and value their inner wisdom, you may give them some of the best advice they ever receive.
Have some advice to share? Share it in the comments below.