One of the most valued traits in friends or family members is the ability to give great advice. We all need someone to turn to when we’re struggling with some aspect of our lives. Occasionally we may just want to vent or rant, but more often than not we’re really hoping someone will steer us in the right direction.

If it’s a trait we admire in others, then perhaps we should work on developing it ourselves. Giving good, non-judgemental advice when it is asked of us can make us a very valuable friend, family member, or teammate.

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Begin By Listening

If you are a naturally good listener, you’re already halfway there towards benefitting people. Feeling isolated and alone are very common modern problems which is why people who listen are very valued. Many of us are becoming self-absorbed and we don’t even realise it. It can become a natural reflex to stare at our phones during social occasions or for our mind to wander into distracting thoughts. If you have been asked for advice, it is important to listen carefully to the other person. Ask questions if you need clarification of the problem but try hard not to interrupt, even if they pause. Explaining difficult situations can be painful. Being interrupted can discourage people from telling the whole truth.

Empathise With Them

Try hard to put yourself in their position. Even if they have behaved badly or irresponsibly, try to understand what might have led to the situation or decision. Many people are driven by fear, loneliness, boredom and other horrible feelings. It can make anyone act selfishly or foolishly and we should recognise this. We don’t have to mistake empathising with someone allowing them to “get away with” bad behaviour. Rather, empathising helps us to understand what led to the situation, how it can be prevented in future, and how harshly it should be dealt with. The chances are, if they are coming to someone for advice they are already ashamed and well aware of having acting badly. It may simply be something that they need assistance with as opposed to "bad" behaviour. If you’re unsure what led to something, then ask. Sometimes, rationalising thoughts or feelings out loud can help them to understand better too.

Empower Them

Giving great advice doesn’t have to end with you telling them what you think might be a positive course of action. Great advice can also be recommending someone who might even know better! If there is a serious family situation, for example, we might be better recommending a law firm like If there has been financial trouble, we might recommend that they make an appointment with their bank or accountant. We can still support them by going to difficult appointments with them, for example. But sometimes the best advice we can give is to get advice from someone else!

With empathy and encouragement, you can become a great source of support and advice for everyone you care about.