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The Web Sage
Copyright © 2002 by Joe Freeman. All rights reserved.
Who’s Advising You?
When we need to make a decision, we often seek advice from others. This is a normal process, especially when we are dealing in areas we are not familiar with. We seek out someone whom we believe has experience or at least some knowledge of the subject, or we ask close friends that we believe we can trust. We can always benefit from an outside opinion, as Benjamin Franklin said ‘They that will not be counseled, cannot be helped’.
The only problem with this process is that most people who give advice have no concept of the consequences that you may be exposed to. It is easy for all of us to listen to your problem and then proceed with statements like ‘you need to….’, or ‘if I were you I would ….’. I am not implying that our friends and family are intentionally giving you bad advice. They are simply responding to your request when you say ‘what would you do’, or I don’t know what to do’. They are processing your request through their life experiences, which may different from yours.
The downside to giving advice is that when someone acts on your advice and it fails, they will blame you for the failure. So be careful when you get into this situation. It could cost you a friendship or create tension within family relationships.

The best way to give advice is to ask questions. Below are some questions you can either ask yourself when you need to make decision or if someone asks you for advice:

Has this situation ever occurred before? (This is important because when someone is very upset or distraught, they forget what resources they already have available.)

If so, what did you do at that time?

What are your options?

What is the worst thing that could happen for each option available?

By seeking answers to these and other questions, you are able to evaluate the ‘pros and cons’ of each option. When helping someone make a decision, instead of giving advice, seek alternatives.

- Joe Freeman

One cool judgment
 is worth a thousand hasty councils.
 The thing is to supply light
and not heat.

Friendship will not stand the
strain of very much good advice
for very long.

The best advisers, helpers and friends,
 always are not those who tell us how to act in special cases,
 but who give us, out of themselves, the ardent spirit and desire to act right,
 and leave us then, even through many blunders,
 to find out what our own form of right action is.