10 Tips on Giving Great Career Advice

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
April 10, 2019

When someone reaches out asking for advice, what is the first thought that crosses your mind?

“What can I really offer?”

“What do I have to say?”

“I know exactly what this person should do!”

“I am not sure how I can help!”

If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind before, you’re not alone. Oftentimes, when someone asks you for advice it’s easy to panic or presume you know exactly what this person needs.

We’ve put together 10 tips to help you be confident and considerate when giving advice!

According to Harvard social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, When people first meet you they quickly judge you based on two questions:

1. Can I trust this person?

2. Can I respect this person?

Psychologists will often refer to these qualities as warmth and competence. Interestingly, warmth outweighs competence as the most important factor in how people evaluate you.

Being friendly, welcoming and sincere can help to create a safe space in which the other person is encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions.

Assumptions kill conversations before they even begin.

When you assume you know what type of advice the other person may benefit from, you risk appearing condescending, presumptuous or unhelpful.

Before starting the conversation, set aside any assumptions you may have about the other person and the type of advice they may want. Remember that everyone has unique personal experiences that have led them to this point.

Being open to new experiences will help facilitate a positive interaction.

They may require further help in an area they hadn’t even considered yet.

Let the other person tell you what they are looking for help with. Listen for specific facts such as their current plan, interests and stage in their career.

This information will give you a greater understanding of who they are and build up a better picture of them as a person — helping you offer more meaningful, and contextual solutions.

If you want to offer great advice, listen to the emotions behind what the other person is saying. Why? Because it will help you determine what is currently holding them back.

Are there undertones of fear, anticipation, frustration or sadness? Labelling their emotions in your head can help you to be more mindful when giving advice.

Use the questions below during the conversation to self-reflect:

Am I hearing what they are saying?

Am I hearing what is behind the words?

What is really being communicated?

What truly matters?

Am I seeking to understand?

It can be easy to jump to giving advice on what you would do in a situation. But this is about them, not you.

Make sure you ask follow up questions about what they have already done, to help you get the full picture.

What have been some of your hurdles?

What have you done in the past to try and improve the situation?

What helped, or did not help?

What are some of the solutions you have already considered?

Chances are you knew what the problem was within the first few moments of the conversation.

Or did you?

Research shows that our brains are wired to attribute other people’s problems to the perceived situational or personality attributes. In short, we blame their problems on their circumstances or their inability to handle adversity.

Interestingly, when talking to people who we do not know well, we often place too much blame on their potential personality attributes e.g. “They are clearly too naive, inexperienced, irrational, emotional, etc.”

In contrast, when talking to our friends, we often overcompensate and place more blame on their potential situational attributes, e.g. “The job market is too competitive, the hiring managers don’t know what they are doing, etc.”

Be aware of this tendency — reserve your judgement and seek to better understand the other person.

There is a big difference between offering opinions, expert advice or being a sounding board for others.

Be aware of how you phrase your advice. Try to avoid words or phrases that may come across condescending or lacking in empathy.

Check out some examples below:

You should just do this!”

“I know exactly how you feel”

“You just need to do this”

“Actually, it’s not that bad”

“Sometimes, having a ‘good impact’ involves deliberately opting not to persuade”

— Reeshad Dalal, psychologist in effective decisions and advice

Instead of assuming an expert stance, offer information about their options. Encourage the other person to use the information to make a sound decision. Involve them in the discussion by asking lots of questions and listening.

What do you think might be helpful moving forward?

Have you considered this?

What do you think about this idea?

It is incredibly empowering to let someone know that you trust them to make an intelligent decision.

Sometimes, showing your support offers the confidence they need.

When you believe in others, you celebrate with them when they succeed and support them when they struggle.

Checking in with someone after giving them advice is a great way of demonstrating that you really care.

Make it clear that it is more important how a situation was resolved, rather than whose advice was taken. This shows maturity and understanding, and will ensure they feel welcomed and accepted.

We hope these tips help you in your next coffee chat!

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10 Tips on Giving Great Career Advice

When someone reaches out asking for advice, what is the first thought that crosses your mind?

“What can I really offer?”

“What do I have to say?”

“I know exactly what this person should do!”

“I am not sure how I can help!”

If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind before, you’re not alone. Oftentimes, when someone asks you for advice it’s easy to panic or presume you know exactly what this person needs.

We’ve put together 10 tips to help you be confident and considerate when giving advice!

According to Harvard social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, When people first meet you they quickly judge you based on two questions:

1. Can I trust this person?

2. Can I respect this person?

Psychologists will often refer to these qualities as warmth and competence. Interestingly, warmth outweighs competence as the most important factor in how people evaluate you.

Being friendly, welcoming and sincere can help to create a safe space in which the other person is encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions.

Assumptions kill conversations before they even begin.

When you assume you know what type of advice the other person may benefit from, you risk appearing condescending, presumptuous or unhelpful.

Before starting the conversation, set aside any assumptions you may have about the other person and the type of advice they may want. Remember that everyone has unique personal experiences that have led them to this point.

Being open to new experiences will help facilitate a positive interaction.

They may require further help in an area they hadn’t even considered yet.

Let the other person tell you what they are looking for help with. Listen for specific facts such as their current plan, interests and stage in their career.

This information will give you a greater understanding of who they are and build up a better picture of them as a person — helping you offer more meaningful, and contextual solutions.

If you want to offer great advice, listen to the emotions behind what the other person is saying. Why? Because it will help you determine what is currently holding them back.

Are there undertones of fear, anticipation, frustration or sadness? Labelling their emotions in your head can help you to be more mindful when giving advice.

Use the questions below during the conversation to self-reflect:

Am I hearing what they are saying?

Am I hearing what is behind the words?

What is really being communicated?

What truly matters?

Am I seeking to understand?

It can be easy to jump to giving advice on what you would do in a situation. But this is about them, not you.

Make sure you ask follow up questions about what they have already done, to help you get the full picture.

What have been some of your hurdles?

What have you done in the past to try and improve the situation?

What helped, or did not help?

What are some of the solutions you have already considered?

Chances are you knew what the problem was within the first few moments of the conversation.

Or did you?

Research shows that our brains are wired to attribute other people’s problems to the perceived situational or personality attributes. In short, we blame their problems on their circumstances or their inability to handle adversity.

Interestingly, when talking to people who we do not know well, we often place too much blame on their potential personality attributes e.g. “They are clearly too naive, inexperienced, irrational, emotional, etc.”

In contrast, when talking to our friends, we often overcompensate and place more blame on their potential situational attributes, e.g. “The job market is too competitive, the hiring managers don’t know what they are doing, etc.”

Be aware of this tendency — reserve your judgement and seek to better understand the other person.

There is a big difference between offering opinions, expert advice or being a sounding board for others.

Be aware of how you phrase your advice. Try to avoid words or phrases that may come across condescending or lacking in empathy.

Check out some examples below:

You should just do this!”

“I know exactly how you feel”

“You just need to do this”

“Actually, it’s not that bad”

“Sometimes, having a ‘good impact’ involves deliberately opting not to persuade”

— Reeshad Dalal, psychologist in effective decisions and advice

Instead of assuming an expert stance, offer information about their options. Encourage the other person to use the information to make a sound decision. Involve them in the discussion by asking lots of questions and listening.

What do you think might be helpful moving forward?

Have you considered this?

What do you think about this idea?

It is incredibly empowering to let someone know that you trust them to make an intelligent decision.

Sometimes, showing your support offers the confidence they need.

When you believe in others, you celebrate with them when they succeed and support them when they struggle.

Checking in with someone after giving them advice is a great way of demonstrating that you really care.

Make it clear that it is more important how a situation was resolved, rather than whose advice was taken. This shows maturity and understanding, and will ensure they feel welcomed and accepted.

We hope these tips help you in your next coffee chat!

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