Sunday, December 30, 2012

Advice: It's better to give than receive

It is better to give than to receive.  That is what most people seem to think about advice.  They get annoyed when they are on the receiving end of advice.  But then they give advice, and when it is not positively received they go around complaining to everyone, "He shouldn't be so upset with me.  I was just trying to help,"  or, "I tried to tell him, but he wouldn't listen.  He never learns."

Advice is not help.  It's easy to understand that when you are on the receiving end, but we still can't seem to understand that when we are on the giving end.

It is not helpful to:
  1. Tell people what to do.
  2. Tell people how to feel, i.e. "don't worry" or "cheer up."
What is helpful? I can think of two things:
  1. Being present.  Listening.  Calling. Sending a card.  Spending time with someone.  Saying "I am here for you," or "How can I help," or "I'm sorry," or "That's difficult."  
  2. Material support.  What the person needs will depend on the situation, but it may be things like giving someone a ride, making phone calls on someone's behalf, picking something up at the store, preparing meals, washing dishes, or watching the kids.  

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