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Advice on Giving Advice

"Hey, would you be willing to give some advice on giving advice?" So I'll give you my perspective on it. There are various ways to provide advice, and it's through my experiences of twenty-plus years of meeting with leaders worldwide, in faith, in government, and business communities. This is my takeaway from how I learned to give advice.

This question is from our friends in SoCal, Didi and Michol Wenger, whom we met several years ago at Embrace Church. Michol asked this question. Giving advice is much like how not to make friends and influence people. Have you heard of Dale Carnegie? He wrote a book in the 1930s, maybe 1936, called "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Incredibly, it's been around for almost 90 years, and it's a handy book for making friends and influencing people. Advising your friends is not always a great way to make friends or influence people, so here's my take. I have a premise in advising that I've learned over the years through hard knocks.

My Premise: We have within ourselves the answer to our questions or the strategy that will move us forward. To advise is not always to bring solutions to the table but to ask the questions that haven't been asked, revealing answers that bring the future into the present.

The place to begin is to listen. To come into a situation with a friend, family member, or acquaintance, whoever it is, to start with listening. Listening is a fantastic tool in the art of advising. I have a good friend named Gary Cockroft, who is an absolute genius at listening. HerHere'sat, I learned from Gary, and that helped me. When you listen, you're listening to hear the question that person hasn't asked themselves yet. Does that make sense? You're listening to discover the questions they aren't asking that will lead them to their answer. Because I believe it's them, I think it's their mind, heart, or spirit. It's already in there. It just needs to be brought forth. And what they've probably been doing is asking the same question over and over and over. Every time they're expecting a different response that doesn't come. But when a friend listens to hear those key phrases, they can ask the better, more mind-blowing, life-altering question.

The shift in the conversation goes to helping them discover their great questions. It's amazing and fun because you don't have to feel like the person with all the answers. You're helping them find out what's already in them.

This is my premise, the key over these last twenty-something years that I've experienced meeting with leaders in different communities of faith, business, and government - and it's a friendship more than anything. It's a relational dynamic. There you go. My thought on advising is to listen, listen, listen. Discover the questions they hadn't asked themselves yet.


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