7 Genius Phrases To Use Instead Of Automatically Giving Advice

Photo: Rachel McDermott | Unsplash
two friends sitting talking to each other

The problem solvers, the fixers, the helpers, and the people pleasers — take note. Most of the time, people in trouble or crisis don't need your advice. They need emotional relief. Often, the best help you can give is your attention to their words with acknowledgment, not advice.

Here are 7 genius phrases to use instead of automatically giving advice, according to YourTango experts:

1. "I am here to listen."

There are only two kinds of advice: Good and bad. Good advice can make the advice receiver dependent on my advice. Bad advice can make me a dope. And never give unsolicited advice. They will hear it as criticism. Just listen.

William (Bill) Meleney, Counselor, Coach, Trainer

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2. "That sounds..."

Instead of automatically giving advice, you can use a phrase like, “That sounds challenging. Would you like to hear my thoughts, or do you prefer just to have someone to listen right now?"

Erika Jordan, Love Coach, NLP Practitioner



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3. "I'm here for you — how can I best help you?"

By resisting the urge from immediate advice-giving, you seize a chance to establish a deeper connection and fully grasp the person's needs. Perhaps they only require a listening ear, and confiding in a trusted person can aid them in processing their emotions. If they tell you they want to help brainstorm solutions or desire your perspective, you can provide exactly that. This saves time and reduces frustration — plus it allows them to take the reins and fosters confidence-building.

Lisa Petsinis, Career & Life Coach

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4. "Do you have any thoughts on how you'd like to handle this?"

Sometimes, people want to brainstorm with you, and sometimes, they need to bounce ideas or feelings off you — but they are not asking you to fix their problem. So before you rush in, ask them, "Do you have any thoughts on how you'd like to handle this?" This invites them to articulate possible strategies — and possibly ask you, "What do you think?" If they do, that's your signal to offer advice.

Dr. Gloria Brame, Ph.D., Therapist



5. "Do you want advice, solutions, or ears?"

When friends start telling me about a situation in their life and then look to me for a response, I ask the following question before I say anything. "What are you hoping to get from our conversation? Do you want advice and solutions, or do you just want to be heard?" This has saved me from giving unwanted advice so many times.

Ronnie Ann Ryan, Intuitive Coach

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sharing problems with a friend

Photo: Odua Images Via Shutterstock

6. "What do you think you want to do about this situation?"

Usually, we know what we want to do or the outcome, but we don't do it because we have some preconceived notion about what we "should" want or do. Asking what the person wants to do gives you a basis for what the desired outcome could be. Then, you can help more by helping them flesh out what they could do themselves to resolve the issue, which keeps the person empowered.

Amy Bracht, Coach and Consultant

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7. "Do you want suggestions or not?"

To avoid burdening recipients with unsolicited information, ask whether or not they would like a few suggestions for dealing with the situation. If not, ask if they would prefer an opportunity to express their concerns and feelings.

Ruth Schimel, Ph.D., Career & Life Mgt. Consultant, Author

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Listen, acknowledge, and ask what they want or need. Be an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, a pair of hugging arms, and a warm cup of tea. Let them know you are here for them without making it about you and your experience or advice. Open heart, open mind, and open ears are the balm to soothe emotional turmoil.

Will Curtis is a writer and editor for YourTango. He's been featured on the Good Men Project and taught English abroad for ten years.