Leadership

Giving unsolicited advice never helps, but these 7 laws do

Henk Veenhuysen
by Henk Veenhuysen
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Sometimes it’s hard not to jump into all kinds of solutions when a work colleague or co-worker comes to you with a problem. Before you know it, you have given well-meant and unsolicited advice that doesn’t really help this person think for himself and come up with a solution on his own.

There is a way to give more space to the other person so they can come up with their own solution. What do you need to do that? And what requires this of yourself? In this article, I’ll give you a mini master class with 7 concepts on how to do just that. Become a super-coach for your colleague or employee.

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In your role as a coach, you must learn to trust that no conversation is the same and that each conversation is a little differently than the previous conversation. There is no miracle formula that you can apply every time. This requires quite a bit of experience from you in your role as a coach and also trusting your own intuition. Each time you look at what is needed and what is requested.

What is unsolicited advice anyway?

Unsolicited advice is when you see someone doing something – in your opinion – that could be done better. Then you say the same to that person. You mean well, of course, but a sour, empty, feeling develops between the two of you.

The same goes for situations where another person is already well underway. When there is nothing going on and you want to give a tip to help the other person advance even further. This is also unsolicited advice.

1. Trust the (inner) wisdom of the other person

You can trust that the employee or colleague (the “coachee”) is able to tap into his/her inner wisdom and intuition. Trusting your inner wisdom means intuitively following your feelings. You can explore that feeling together with your coachee.

If a coachee is not very good at getting to his/her feelings, then together you can bring up an example where the coachee has already strongly followed his/her own wisdom in a previous situation. Often these are situations where emotions play a strong role. Funfact, confidence in one’s inner wisdom is always present and never absent.

2. Feeling safe is important

Making mistakes is allowed if your employee or colleague wants to learn something. This is an important aspect of the development process. This is the very reason you are and remain without judgment as an interlocutor.

Making mistakes is part of the learning process and is not something you have to keep quiet about or pretend it doesn’t affect you. Gives your interlocutor a chance to restore himself and move on. Feeling safe under all circumstances is an important principle here.

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unsolicited advice
Consider the conversation a zone in which you do not give unsolicited advice

3. Do not give unsolicited advice

Pretty hard not to give all kinds of advice right away. Obviously, you would like to help someone with all kinds of ideas and suggestions you have yourself. Still, it is wise to wait a while to do so. This is because you run the risk of making the other person (who has a serious problem) feel a bit silly, unheard or see your advice as unsubtle feedback.

Therefore, consider the conversation basically an advice-free zone. What can be done is to take a moment to sense or ask what someone needs. Maybe it was just a listening ear ….

4. Leave your own ego at home

In your coaching conversations, you may run into some pitfalls related to your own ego:

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  1. Often we have a strong savior inside ourselves. A part of your personality that is eager to save your coachee from all the suffering that threatens to happen to him or her.
  2. You may also find yourself somewhat irritated with your coachee because things don’t work out right away.
  3. If your coachee shows emotion then as a coach you can feel hurt because the emotion also touches something inside of you.

In short: your ego runs off with you. The effect of this is it eliminates growth space. As a coach, you are then too preoccupied with things like the result or to keep a grip on the coaching situation.

It is important to be aware of these pitfalls. A powerful way to do this is to not react to what is happening in front of you. The best thing to do initially is to keep your mouth shut and just be there for your coachee. Then you consciously choose your moment to talk or to be silent.

5. Let someone stand in their own power

People generally have a highly developed sense of making their own decision. They often do so intuitively, using their own wisdom. Needless to say, you can stimulate that inner wisdom by asking the right questions.

In this way, you respect their autonomy. So don’t make decisions for other people because by doing so you take away someone’s power to act for themselves.

6. Feeling emotions is fine, even the difficult ones

Experiencing the other person’s emotions and dealing with them requires quite a lot from you. Can you imagine the other person’s emotion can affect you? For example, because you have a shadow side to it yourself? Something you yourself have yet to process? You may feel sadness or fear yourself as a result.

What you have to realize is that you can just leave the emotions you feel with the other person. You, as the interlocutor, are not responsible for it. They’re just allowed to be there. Also, do not condemn the emotions or try to appease or justify them. The other person may feel what they are feeling. Trust that the emotions will also pass away again. Even in a difficult conversation.

7 Help! He/she does not make the right decision

It can be somewhat disappointing for you when the other person makes a decision “that’s not right” in your opinion. Trust the other person to make the right decision and respect that decision. This is how you empower someone.

What you can do is, together with the other person, to look a little more closely and more deeply at the decision. Explore whether there are hesitations underneath, for example, or perhaps your coachee is afraid. The final decision lies with the other person. Respect that decision and feel free to compliment the other person to encourage them.

Dealing with unsolicited advice

What should you do if you yourself receive unsolicited advice? The answer is simple: accept it. Don’t argue about it. Make the other person feel comfortable. What you can also do is to state before the conversation what you think the purpose of the conversation is. For example, that you would like to be heard.

Free introductory call,

Run into a lack of assertiveness or self-confidence?

Want to get rid of that, once and for all? Then my 1-on-1 coach approach is really something for you. Lets get acquainted first, no strings attached. See if we have a 'click' and if I can help you.

> Schedule your free call now

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