What shall I do? A recipe on how to give advice?

by Aliona Lebed

bears-talking_website jan.2014

Dear friends,

Stepping through life day after day, each of us need advice.  Advice on how to start a new business, advice on a job interview, poetry writing, a marketing plan, on how to resolve difficult financial situations, which doctor to visit, on how to solve a problem with a partner.  Do you recall times when your close friends were in a state of despair and asked: ” Why did she not answer me? “, ” Why is he cheating on me?  In this case, you almost feel obliged to give advice to your friend. Sometimes your advice is received and accepted, but most of the times the opposite is true. People become defensive and get annoyed with your advice.  They might also project their anger onto you.  Do you know why ?

The condition of your friend or loved one already resembles that of a pot of boiling soup ready to boil over.  If the lid has already blown, then a lot of steam bursts out, which clouds the whole space, a guest room , a cafe, a train carriage. The picture is not the most pleasant.  Here is a recipe on how to help this person.

1.Turn off the heat under the pan of boiling soup.  Agree to meet with your friend in person.  If he is at a distance then skype or a phone call would also be great. Encourage him by saying, “Do not give up , we will chat soon.”

2 . On the day of the meeting be prepared to listen attentively.  Remember: this is not your soup, it is someone else’s situation.  Therefore, it would be absolutely useless  to judge and  evaluate  this situation.  There is no need to season your friend’s soup and add “salt & pepper”  to it.  Your seasoning would be expressions like:

” How did he dare? “,
” OMG, what a nasty girl!”,
“You urgently need … “.

Listen attentively without interrupting . Give  your friend a chance to speak out, to be heard, to ” let off steam”.  Continue for 20-40-90 minutes or longer until soup is ready.  Typically in 80% of cases,  your friend will feel better.  He will have  let off steam and released his emotions.  He would have shared his problems with a good friend  and he will be ready to walk through life once again.  You coped with the task well. Congratulations! 

3 . If your friend still asks: “So what shall I do?” Try not to directly answer this question.  At this point, turn on the principle of ” tomorrow is another day”.  Or ask a friend the same question: “What do you think you have to do ? ”  The next morning, it is a good idea to phone or send a txt asking: ” How are you  today ? Wishing you great day. “

P.S. If there is a physical threat to life for your friend , then immediately contact the police or an ambulance . And if the situation seems daunting , but with no direct danger to life, then recommend a friend to see a specialist – a person who has experience and knowledge on how to deal with similar situations.

With best wishes,

Aliona  Lebed

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