- Mental Health
4 LIFEHACKS: How to get the best advice about anything
Who, How, When, and Reverse it...
No one knows all of the answers in life, so odds are that we will all give and receive plenty of bad advice from time to time. Use these simple, common sense lifehacks to always get the best advice about anything.
#1 Know who to ask
What are you asking for advice about? Does the person you're talking to have any valuable experience or expertise on the matter?
Teenage girls usually don't go to their dads with questions about becoming a woman, for good reason. So, why do a lot of us go to the wrong people? You don't want to ask someone who is also struggling with money about how to manage your money, for example. And you don't want to ask someone who has perpetual relationship problems for help with your own.
Look for role models. What is your ideal in this situation? Who do you know that has already achieved what you're after? It's wonderful that your friends and family are there to listen to your problems, and to love and support you, but just because they care so much, doesn't mean they have the answers for you. It's nice if they do offer you advice, but realize it may not be the best advice, and ask someone with proven success living what they preach.
Who is your "go to" when you need advice?
#2 Know how to ask
Now that you've figured out who to ask, it's important to know how to approach someone for advice. Most importantly, never approach people like, "Here's my problem. Fix it." Try to open the conversation by stating your problem as objectively as possible. Don't cloud the situation with emotional tangents, state the facts plain and simple.
They may jump in with advice right away, or start asking you questions to understand the situation or how you feel about it. That's great. If not, signal that you're looking for advice without "dumping it on them" by asking them about their experience. For example, "Have you ever had anything like that happen to you?" or "How did you handle it when you went through this?"
Get them talking and then focus on them. That's what you're here for! To model their success in a similar situation. So, ask questions and really listen to their story. You're not here to talk about you anymore, so just listen and don't try to steer the conversation back to yourself until they're done.
Lastly, always respect their boundaries. They may not be comfortable talking about it, or giving advice about it. Let it go and find someone else to ask. Don't try to force someone to give you advice, you'll only annoy them and probably get bad advice from it. Make them comfortable.
Have you ever gotten bad advice, maybe from the wrong person or at the wrong time? Tell me about it in the comments!
I love getting to interact with you all. It's always an open conversation here!
#3 Know when to ask
Don't expect anyone to drop everything to talk to you. If they're busy or focused on other things, ask if they can meet you for coffee, or something similar. Be aware that the phrase "We need to talk" is anxiety provoking and puts them on the spot. You want to make them relaxed and able to give you thoughtful advice. Show them that you value them and their time.
If you can't get their attention, don't get frustrated and don't take it personally. Somewhere, someone else that you know, or have access to, has succeeded at whatever you need advice about. Go to them this time. And just leave it on the table with the other person that you'd really appreciate a few minutes to talk, and let them know how to reach you. If their schedule opens up, great! If not, no big deal.
#4 Know how to give great advice
It's also important to be able to give great advice. First and foremost, if you don't have the experience or expertise, the only advice you should give is how they can find someone who is. Don't pontificate about things that you've never achieved yourself, or prop yourself up as an authority when you are not. Speak from your heart about the things that you genuinely know, but admit that you don't know everything.
Also extremely important, practice active listening techniques. Make eye contact, ask questions, repeat things back to check understanding, and never interrupt. A lot of the time, people will sort out their own problems by just being able to organize their thoughts out loud. You don't always have to give advice. Sometimes, they just need you to listen.
Never approach someone else with unsolicited advice. It can be very confrontational. It's one thing to intervene when you believe someone is putting themselves in risky or dangerous situations, but even then, any advice you give will not impact them unless they're ready to hear it. If you want to be able to help them when they're ready, don't push them away with advice they didn't ask for. It will probably be perceived as judgmental and telling them how to live their life.
And lastly, try to shift your verbiage away from "you" and focus on "I". For example, don't say "you should", say "I would" instead. It's the same idea as giving unsolicited advice, it can easily come across as judgmental or condescending.
You do have access to more resources
You may have a very specific problem that you don't know anyone personally that has been through the same problem. In this great, big world, you are never alone! The internet is full of resources for you. Be especially careful online about knowing who to ask, but don't be afraid to reach out. Also understand that being online, they may have a lot more people, just like you, seeking their advice.
Here are just a couple resources that you may find online:
If you are looking for advice about business and marketing, I've worked with these guys and they are extremely knowledgeable and helpful to anyone who contacts them. Pete Williams and Dom Goucher of Preneurcast can help you! Check out their podcast and blog at PreneurMarketing.com.
Skylar K is an activist, artist, writer and musician with whom I've recently become friends. He is very knowledgeable in transgender issues and has a big heart. There are many ways to connect with him. Check out his YouTube video above!
Thanks for reading!
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Is there any advice that I might be able to give you? I love hearing your feedback, or suggestions for what I should cover next, so PLEASE leave me a comment below. I do read and respond! It's always an open discussion here :)
Please share your bad advice experiences in the comments too!
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© 2014 Matthew Ryczko