Most of us have a love / hate relationship with advice.
Meaning we love to give it, but we hate to hear it.
If you’ve ever been in a touchy situation, and you’re considering your options, hearing somebody intrude into your thoughts with something like, “Why don’t you…” is usually not very welcome.
Now, if we’re completely clueless and we need all the help we can get, that’s one thing. But being able to figure out and solve problems on our own is part if life. In fact, it gives us such a good feeling of “handling something” that it’s likely some kind of evolutionary programmed response.
It’s a good chance our ancestors had to survive by their wits a lot more than us, so giving them a good emotional “reward” when they figured something out was probably a good idea.
If you’ve got kids, or if you’re a teacher, you know the common response from kids when you try to intervene.
“I can do it!” is usually the response.
With this in mind, it can be a bit dicey to offer unasked for advice. You see somebody in trouble, you offer something you think is a good and workable solution, and they get mad. Everybody’s worse off. Now they’re mad, they’re still in trouble, and you’ve forever shot yourself in the foot as far as helping your friend goes, at least in that situation.
What to do?
One way is to tell a story, either about yourself in a similar situation, or of somebody else in a similar situation. It doesn’t have to be a true story. Just one that illustrates your possible solution.
A good way to present it is as if you don’t really “remember” the whole story. That way, your friend will have to “fill in the blanks” on their own (as our brains HATE unfinished business), and in doing so, they’ll likely come up with a solution.
JUST the solution you were hoping they’d come up with. This way, EVERYBODY’s happy. They’ve solved their problem, you feel good for helping them, and you didn’t invade their thinking with unasked for advice.
What’s more, they’ll have a pretty good feeling about themselves, and subconsciously associate that you, which will strengthen your relationship MUCH MORE than any advice would.
Naturally, this “covert advice giving” can be used in a LOT of different ways.