We’ve all been a third-party observer to many of our friends’ issues and challenges. Whether it was a toxic relationship they were in or a vulnerable situation they were dealing with. On one hand, we generally have a decent perspective from which to give our thoughts - it’s easier to do so when we are looking from an outside lens. On the other hand, there are times when you absolutely can’t relate to your friends’ struggles or concerns, but still feel the need to provide sound advice from the sidelines.
In such an instance, it's ok to recognize that you may not instantly be able to provide the right advice they may need to navigate through their situation. Most of the time when a friend seeks your advice, they are merely looking for an ear to listen to their problems and good company to journey with through their difficult time.
Regardless of which situation you find yourself in as the adviser, below we provide 4 tips to help you advise wisely:
1. Be an ear and allow them to vent out their frustrations
This is an important tip to note. When your friends first seek you out for advice, allow them to rant. Allow them to get their problems and frustrations out. Whether that takes an hour or weeks to do, give them the room and the platform they need to do so. It might become repetitive—hearing the same issues over and over again but it is necessary for them to rant in order to begin the healing process. Your only job in this phase is to be an ear to listen. When you listen to their cries and worries, it will give you the right information you need as a friend to help them work through their pain.
2. Make them comfortable by not judging anything they did or have to say.
As a friend, when your home girl or home boy comes to you in a fragile state, baring their entire soul out to you, the last thing they want to feel is uncomfortable or judged. It takes a lot of courage and trust for someone to share their experience and what they have been through and even the poor choices and mistakes that they have made. Your job in such situation, is to avoid judgement at any cost. Try to share a similar experience if you have any, to make them feel comfortable. Also, watch how you deliver your advice to them. So instead of saying, “Girl, why didn’t you do x, y and z - this is your fault.” Try saying “what might be the lesson here?" And makes sure they know that your are here for them and that you have their back.
3. Make sure you always provide advice that is rooted in honesty
Honesty is critical when providing advice. Sometimes your friend might not want to hear it but it is vital to their healing process. I do think that you must be tactful when delivering your honest opinions or feedback. If done right, these conversations can be courageous and your friends will be grateful to you for keeping it 100 with them. You never know, the advice that you gave may have helped them avoid a terrible situation or helped them not give up on an amazing experience or person. So, every now then, it's ok to say, “what do you think your role was in this situation, and how would you handle things differently?”, Doing this can make a world of a difference.
4. Provide a good reading list to them be it self help or fiction
I've found that in some instances, where I may not be able to relate to their struggles, recommending a really good book has helped my friends more than me dispensing my opinions. As a good friend, it is very important that we are always providing tips and tools to help our friends feel more empowered and equipped to tackle their problems. That’s why providing them with a good reading list can give them a new or different perspective that they need. You can do this by stating, “Omg I once read this book that I think could be of great use to you…”
Do you find these tips helpful? What others ways do you adopt when providing advice? Comment and share with us!
Three women going through life.