It did take me a while to realise but these days I try hard not to go about giving free advice for a lot of reasons. One, I hate being advised myself, so it’s only fair that I don’t have others going through the same trauma. Two, everyone has a unique life – unique experiences, different circumstances. So what worked well for me needn’t really work for them, right? Three, there are way too many people out there who are already sharing free advice, the world doesn’t need one more.
But there is one habit that I’m consciously replacing advice-giving with and that is LISTENING. Sounds like a simple thing to do but it is not. Yet, I’m sure the effort will be worth it.
We have all taken it for granted that the greatest quality of psychologists and counsellors is their ability to give good advice. But, in reality, that is far from the truth.
The truth is, it is their ability to listen that makes them good at what they do.
Look around you, in your own friends circle. Often, it is not the people with the best advice that everyone goes to but also the one who has the interest and keenness to listen. After all, free advice givers are all around us. What you, me and everyone else are really seeking out is someone with big listening ears and attentive eyes. Of course, advice is a part of the process but that comes second only to listening.
They say men and women are wired differently. While men seek solutions for problems, women need someone to share their problems with regardless of whether that person has the solution or not. However, solution or no solution, men and women need someone to talk to, to share their problems with; whether a solution comes out of it, in case of men or some relief/comfort in case of women is the follow up to sharing a problem and having someone listening to it.
Think back for yourself. We have all been in that one situation, a problem at home, workplace, with parents or spouse or a friend. And we have had hundreds of people around us who had varying pieces of advice to give, right? But how many who genuinely wanted to hear our problem out? None or a few who you can count on your fingers, I assume.
Now, the same applies to others around you who must be going through a problem. More than advice, they need someone who can hear them out first. So the next time anyone in your family, friends circle or office seem upset, worried or frustrated, I think you should prepare yourself to listen to them than focusing on the best advice that you could give them. No one really needs free advice. Because the problem they are going through is unique to them and their circumstances. What worked for you or someone else may not necessarily work for them. So, be prepared to listen, suggestions (a better word for advice) will and can come next.
(Now you know why we have two ears and only one mouth)
And we all know it, the person who listens intently is admired and loved by everyone, is often the wiser one of the lot too. And the person with free advice is, well, not seen in the same light.
Just look around yourself. You will be able to spot the true listeners amongst you.