Home » How to Give and Take Advice: 4 Principles You May Want to Know

How to Give and Take Advice: 4 Principles You May Want to Know

by Fosburit
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Giving advice for others and taking others’ advice both need to look at the “suggestion” from the perspective of others and from your own perspective, so that you can know more clearly which advice to make and take.

Advice givers should be cautious and identify the real problems of the seekers. Don’t be in a hurry to give advice. Good advice is based on fully understanding the other party’s information, and then matching your own suitable decision-making model. 

For advice seekers, the questions asked should be specific, clearly positioned, ask fewer big questions, and avoid being unclear about what their problems are. Good questions are based on a full understanding of themselves, plus their own thinking about the problem.

In daily work and life, giving advice but not making decisions for others, as you’re not responsible for the result; and do not blindly follow others’ suggestions that do not bear the results.

Regarding giving and receiving advice, there are indeed some principles.

1. Giving advice does not mean helping others make a decision.

Giving advice sometimes is more about listening and encouraging, not only about giving your opinions and suggestions. 

Everyone has their own requirement of expressions and recognition, and sometimes your friends or co-workers may know how to do it but need your encouragement when seeking advice.

So believe that the other party can solve his own problems, guide and encourage him to find the answer by himself.

There may be only two things you’ll provide when giving advice to others: information and decision model.


When your friends or co-workers ask you for advice, they usually want to make decisions. So more adequate and objective information will help them make more correct decisions.

If there is a serious lack of information or even distortion of your information, it will be difficult for the other side to make correct decisions.

Based on sufficient and objective information, they can have many possible options.

Decision Model

Then, find the best option through the decision model.

The following is the advice of the simple decision model:

  1. If it is the first case, what should you do? 
  2. If it is the second case, what should you do? 
  3. If it is the third situation, what should you do?

Of course, this decision-making model may not be comprehensive.

Decision-making process

You give advice to the other party, or provide him with more information when their information is insufficient.

Or when his decision-making model is not enough, provide him with a suitable decision-making model.

But he was the one who made the final decision. Never help others to make decisions. If the results are not good after others adopt the decision, you will really regret it.

Only the person responsible for the result has the right to make a decision.

Conversely, when you seek advice from others, never let others help you make decisions.

When many people seek advice from others, they just want to seek a definite conclusion: come and help me get an idea, just tell me what to do.

It is not suggested as he is actually equivalent to outsourcing the responsibility for this matter.

  1. If this is done, he might thank you very much.
  2. But if he fails to do it, he will resent you and say that it was you who helped him get the idea.

So it is not suggested to help others to make decisions.

2. When providing suggestions, don’t say “what you should do”. But you can say, “if it were me, I would do like this.”

Before giving advice, you may need to talk with the other party for a long time, and you may ask a lot of questions during this period.

As you may know, it is to obtain as much information as possible to get various options.

If you can draw a conclusion based on the understanding the sufficient information the other party provided, you will tell the other party:

If it were me, I would do like this.

Why say “if it were me, I would do like this.”

This means: this is just my choice for your reference, if in the same condition.

Following the information and decision-making model, there is actually another item called: values.

For example: I am a person who prefers risk; and you may be a person who hates risk very much.

I am a person who is more willing to try new things; and you may be a person who likes to do one thing for a long time to achieve the ultimate.

Under the same information environment and decision-making model, the choices we will make may be very different if we have different values.

Therefore, there is actually the support of values behind the sentence of “If it were me, I would do like this”.

Because our values ​​are different, you may not make the same choice as me.

After talking about giving advice, let’s talk about taking advice.

3. Be Polite and Sincere When Asking for Advice.

Before seeking advice, you need to know that others are not obliged to help you.

If someone else happens to be free and able to help you, you should be grateful.

And if they don’t help you, you can’t blame others and feel that the world has hurt you.

4. Describe your problem as detailed as possible and as simple as possible.

When seeking advice, you also need to have a deep understanding of yourself and provide enough information to get better advice from others.

Detailed means that you should provide the necessary information as much as possible.

Simplicity means that you should get rid of any irrelevant information, and never say two sentences that can be said clearly in one sentence. Provide the most information with the least number of words and save others’ time.

For example:

I once received a message from a friend: “I think the company is not good enough, should I resign?”

You can see it is difficult to answer as without having sufficient information, such as follows:

  • What is going on in your company? 
  • What is your current income situation? 
  • What kind of person is your leader or boss? 
  • What is the specific reason you want to leave? 
  • Do you have an alternative? 

It takes a lot of communication before I can understand the information needed to give him the option or decision-making model.

If I tell this friend: “if you think the company is not good, leave it.”

This is a particularly irresponsible answer.

Although behind this answer, there is also a decision-making model.

The decision model is, whether you leave the company or not depends on whether it is good or not.

At this time, when you are seeking advice from others, you can’t expect the other person to give you a good answer, because you didn’t provide enough information.

What can you expect?

You can expect the other party to give you advice on a decision-making model.

However, when seeking advice from others, you have to know that because the information is not sufficient, all you can get is a decision model. 

Also, not let others make decisions for you.

Final Thought

There are a few principles for advice giving and taking:

  1. Don’t help others make decisions and don’t ask others to make decisions for you.
  2. When giving advice, don’t say what you should do. But say, “if it were me, I would do it.”
  3. Provide information as much as possible for others to have a clear understanding of your problem when asking.

Hope to inspire you.

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