Ask This Question Before Giving Advice

A personal reflection as I care for my sick grandmother.

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Think back to the times someone has come to you with a problem; did you immediately jump to giving advice? It is human nature to attempt to support others with our experiences. As I watch my maternal grandmother’s last stage of life as she is battles COVID at age 93, I am lucky to be surrounded by many caring loved ones. I know they all mean well, but sometimes instead of empathizing as I share my struggles, they jump to explaining a similar challenge they previously faced in their own life. Despite their good intentions, I feel silenced as they pivot the conversation to themselves so I refrain from sharing major details.

In my personal experience, I have found that solutions and wisdom are not always necessary and that, oftentimes, being heard is enough. Not every problem has a fix; if it does, people can usually find the solution within themselves. The next time someone comes to you in a challenging time, lead with the phrase, “I want to support you.” Then, ask these questions to ensure your well-intentioned support is helpful.
“What do you need right now?”
“Do you need comfort or advice?
“Do you want to hear a story of how I made it through a similar challenge?
Who can you empathize with to provide a touch of light through a challenge?

You might also like...


Four Simple Steps to Reduce Stress and Boost Your Confidence in Any Situation

by Farrah Smith

Why It’s Time to Stop Giving Advice (and How You Can Really Help Instead)

by Celeste Headlee

Nine Ways to Heal Family Rifts & Become More Functional

by Dr. Carmen Harra
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.