Advice Column

5 Pitfalls of Giving Advice and How to Avoid Them

September 14, 2021 Lisa Liguori Season 1 Episode 4
5 Pitfalls of Giving Advice and How to Avoid Them
Advice Column
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Advice Column
5 Pitfalls of Giving Advice and How to Avoid Them
Sep 14, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
Lisa Liguori

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You want to support the people you love but sometimes they ignore your advice. Worse yet, it causes a riff. There's a reason giving advice often goes sideways. (Actually there are 5 reasons!) In this episode we break down why giving advice can be counterproductive and share what to do instead. 

Download our free guide, The 5 Most Dangerous Pitfalls When Giving Advice (And How To Avoid Them) at

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

You want to support the people you love but sometimes they ignore your advice. Worse yet, it causes a riff. There's a reason giving advice often goes sideways. (Actually there are 5 reasons!) In this episode we break down why giving advice can be counterproductive and share what to do instead. 

Download our free guide, The 5 Most Dangerous Pitfalls When Giving Advice (And How To Avoid Them) at

 Lisa Liguori: (00:01)
I feel like we need to explain why this podcast is called Advice Column, and yet we are very committed to- to not giving advice. You wanna be helpful to the people you care about, but sometimes you feel like you're talking to a wall or worse yet, you create distance instead of giving assistance that you're so eager to give. So today we're talking about how to share your wisdom in a way that strengthens your connection and really helps the person you care about grow rather than feeling like your attempts are just falling on deaf ears or worse yet creating a divide.

Renee Kohn: (00:42)
Exactly. Exactly. And I, it- it feels like there's a lot of really well-meaning people out there, but I'm so excited for the segment today because I think that if people knew what would be a better alternative sometimes, then giving advice, there's just more choices and options and a deeper connections.

Lisa Liguori: (01:01)
So true. I'm Lisa, and today I have my friend Renee with me and I wanna give a little bit of background on why we're doing this, because I was an advice giver for about 20 years of my life. And so I fell into this pitfall all the time, and I know that you listener out there, you have the best intentions to support the people you love. And I don't want you to have the same frustrations that I had for so many years. And I stumbled into this amazing alternative. And so we're taking a step back today from our normal format where we take a topic and then we ask a bunch of panelists to share their feedback on that topic. And we're actually doing a kind of meta thing where we're talking about, well, why are we doing it that way?

Renee Kohn: (01:45)
Yeah. Sometimes when people give me advice, I know they have the best intentions. Let's say my dad, for example, he'll say, "Well, I think if you did your business like this, it would be great." And I think sometimes it feels good to know that he cares, that he's trying to come up with a solution, and- and I know in particular men feel really good giving advice. That's their love language in a lot of ways, but I don't know, Lisa, how do you feel? 'Cause for me it feels like instead of advice, I just, sometimes I just wanna be heard, I wanna be listened to, and I wanna be reminded that I have great answers inside of me.

Lisa Liguori: (02:23)
Absolutely. And the thing that can be so frustrating is when I'm telling someone about a situation and they say, "Well, why don't you do this?" I'm like, "I already tried that." "Well, why don't you do this because of this? Why don't you do that?" And by the time we exhaust all of their ideas, I'm so frustrated, I'm in a worse head space than I was before I even tried to talk (laughs) to the person about it. (laughs) So we are talking today about five pitfall in advice giving and what we can do instead so that we avoid them. I feel like we need to explain why this podcast is called Advice Column, and yet we are very committed to- to not giving advice.

Renee Kohn: (02:57)
Exactly. It sounds counterintuitive, right?

Lisa Liguori: (03:00)
It's so counterintuitive. Well, the reason is when I was searching for a name for the format that we do, which is experience sharing, it wasn't something people were really familiar with, and so I said, if someone's searching for experience sharing, what are the words that they're actually going to use, because, uh, you know, you listening, you might not know what you're looking for is experience sharing. So what words would we be familiar with that sounds like what someone's listening for.

Renee Kohn: (03:24)
And that's how Advice Column came up.

Lisa Liguori: (03:26)
Exactly. So it's a Advice Column where we never give advice (laughs) but we do share experiences to help people grow.

Renee Kohn: (03:33)
When people give me advice, although I know they're so well-meaning, sometimes I feel like they're not really tuned in to my emotion, to what I'm feeling.

Lisa Liguori: (03:44)
Exactly, Renee. I would say pitfall number one in advice giving is not reflecting the person's emotion before you address the situation. And it's so counterintuitive sometimes, from the outside, it's easy to look in and see what the problem is, and when I get right in there and start addressing that, but sometimes what the person needs first is kind of emotional first aid.

Renee Kohn: (04:04)
Yeah. Sometimes I'll be really frustrated about something and my husband will say, "Well, let's do X, Y, and Z." And for me, what feels good in that moment is for him to reflect, gosh, you- you seem really frustrated right now. This is really bothering you. And when I get that, I'm like, oh my God, he loves me, he's hearing me. It just, it feels good, and it drops me down to a deeper place, and I feel more connected.

Lisa Liguori: (04:30)
How this works is you telling me, "Um, man, I'm so frustrated. Um, I was in traffic the whole way home." And instead of saying, "Well, why didn't you take the back route or yeah, I had it too." I say, "Wow. It sounds like that was really annoying."

Renee Kohn: (04:46)
I like that. It sounds like that was really annoying. So if- if I say that to you instead of, oh, why didn't you take the back route, what does that open up in you?

Lisa Liguori: (04:54)
Well, it just first connects us and allows me to know like, you know, how I f- felt, um, one thing that kind of gets in my way sometimes of doing this is I think, well, I don't feel that way. And if I didn't feel that way, am I being unincredible or disingenuous when I reflect that. But what I learned is I don't have to, I can say it sounds like you felt that way, even if I wouldn't feel that way. And the person usually just stops and goes, "Yes." And it's this like weight comes off and there's this connection between us and also this, like I said, emotional first aid almost.

Renee Kohn: (05:29)
Not advice giving, feeling into the emotion and reflecting it back to them, that is a great alternative. Absolutely. Okay. Lisa, do you ever have somebody that just pumbles in and says, "Okay, here's what you need to do. You've got this problem, you need to do X, you need to do- do Y you need to do Z."

Lisa Liguori: (05:47)
Totally. Bull in the China shop, I did not ask your advice. Thank you very much. I'm not ready to hear it.

Renee Kohn: (05:54)
Yeah. For me when people just give advice without really asking me if I want that advice, it- it kinda takes me aback and I'm just like, whoa.

Lisa Liguori: (06:04)
Yeah. It's with such good intention, right? And I realize I do it with people all the time. Like I said, being on the outside, I think, sometimes I think I have the objectivity to see what that person doesn't see, and I so badly wanna help them. I wanna help them break the cycle, so I charge right in uninvited. And so that's advice pitfall number two is not asking permission.

Renee Kohn: (06:25)
And what does that do for you?

Lisa Liguori: (06:27)
For me, I think it feels like they are superior in a way, they haven't really let me say what are the challenges for me. You know, they might guess what the issue is, and I'm like, it's not that at all. And so me trying to back up and explain it to you is really frustrating. Yeah.

Renee Kohn: (06:46)
Totally, totally. It, to me feels like they just don't get the whole picture, and so for me, I just feel unheard and unseen and it just feels yuck to me.

Lisa Liguori: (06:55)
Yeah. Such so yucky. (laughing) I love that word, blah. (laughs) I know. And it's so easy when it's happening to me for me to think, I don't like it, and then I forget, and I do it with other people. I'm sorry, people I love. Advice pitfall number three is telling the person what we think they should do. This is our ironic, this is how you solve it.

Renee Kohn: (07:14)
Exactly. I know for me sometimes when people come in and they're like, "You know, you need to do this." Sometimes I'm like, "Uh, duh, like I didn't think about that already." And then also it's like, wait a minute, don't, do you not trust me that I am gonna find my way, I'm gonna get there.

Lisa Liguori: (07:31)
Totally. You will get there. And the thing about it is no two situations are exactly the same. So I recent lost my father and people gave me a lot of advice and I appreciate it so much. I mean, the- the comfort in knowing that the intentions to support, but no two people have the exact same relationship with their father. Other people may have had a parallel situation where they lost a loved one, but every person's relationship with that loved one is different. There were different dynamics, we're different people, we're relating to it in different ways. So to tell people what to do is dangerous ground because we really aren't the expert on someone else's life.

Renee Kohn: (08:09)
What helped you the most in that process? Like instead of somebody giving you advice on what to do when you lost your dad, what really helped you the most?

Lisa Liguori: (08:17)
I love that question. I think it was very helpful when people just let me know they were there. And also just being curious how they could be supportive. So rather than saying, "Let me do this, or you need to do that. You have to give yourself time." Those were helpful, but what was more helpful was saying, "When I lost my dad, this is what my experience was." So again, we're starting to get into the solution to giving advice, which is experience sharing, but it was curiosity about what I needed rather than presuming to know, and then sharing their own experience rather than telling me what I needed to do.

Lisa Liguori: (08:54)
So I could take things from what they shared with me and apply them. A friend said to me, "Oh, you know, I was so surprised in the second year after my dad died at the surprising times that I would feel emotional." And that really helped me because randomly I'll feel emotional for seemingly no reason, you know. I got through Father's Day, no problem, and fourth of July, I was a wreck. But that experience my friend shared with me, helped me, but she didn't tell me you're going to feel this way, or you need to do X, Y, Z when that happens.

Renee Kohn: (09:23)
Did it make you feel not as alone hearing her experience?

Lisa Liguori: (09:28)
Oh my gosh. So much so. So the, when someone doesn't steal the microphone, so to speak and make it all about them, but yet shares with me a real world experience from their life, it kind of puts me on their level with me, not that they're the expert telling me what to do, but that they've been there in the trenches with me, and it gives me these ahas sometimes where this weight comes off of me and I go, oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one-

Renee Kohn: (09:56)
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Lisa Liguori: (09:56)
... and I'm not.

Renee Kohn: (09:57)
Yeah. To me it's so comforting.

Lisa Liguori: (10:00)
We kind of talked about pitfall number four along the way that giving advice just doesn't affirm the other person's wisdom.

Renee Kohn: (10:07)
Right. Honoring somebody's inner wisdom, instead of giving advice is so much more about celebrating their skills, their tools, their inner resources, and just holding safe space that you're there with them along the journey.

Lisa Liguori: (10:22)
Totally. And you are a- a- a coach. So this is probably a skill that you use a lot and it's kind of foundational. Um, tell me a little bit about your experience using this as a philosophy.

Renee Kohn: (10:35)
Well, sometimes when I'm coaching a client, Lisa, to be honest, I'm thinking, okay, well they need to do X, Y, and Z, or if they did X, Y, and Z, they're gonna get their results. And I know it's so much more powerful to let somebody else get there. So I ask questions that I feel like will open them up to get there, and I really do my best to let them go at their own pace. I mean, if it's just absolutely like, oh my God, we've got two minutes left and I wanna give them a pearl of wisdom, I may reflect to them what I'm seeing and what I think could be helpful or what I've experienced is helpful, but what I see, it just builds so much confidence in my clients when they get there and they have the space to do it.

Lisa Liguori: (11:18)
Yeah. We learn so much more from what we discover ourselves, right?

Renee Kohn: (11:21)
Oh yes.

Lisa Liguori: (11:22)
Well, we kind of summarize this, but the final advice pitfall is sharing advice instead of what is much richer, which is our experiences. The thing about sharing an experience is it's, it doesn't offend, it's like, this was my experience, it can't be right or wrong. And then you get to draw from it the things that are helpful to you and leave the things that aren't.

Renee Kohn: (11:44)
Exactly. And when I hear somebody share an experience, it also connects me to them. It makes me feel like, wow, they trust me to share that with me. And it- it feels good, it feels like they're valuing me because they're opening up a part of themselves. You've gone through something similar, and then that makes me feel that I'm gonna get through it, if you have, I can too.

Renee Kohn: (12:08)
So for example, I was a part of a, um, prison ministry, um, an amazing workshop for- for many, many years. And I remember going there and it was so incredible and it was so transformational and it- it was just phenomenal. But I had a lot of fear about it before I went in, they- they were maximum security prisons, I'd never been in something like that, and so a lot of people were saying, "Oh, don't do that. I watched this show and it's scary."

Renee Kohn: (12:38)
And in- instead of that, what would've been so helpful is, you know, to hear from people that have been in that situation to go, "You know what? Yes, I- I did this and what felt good to me was to know, you know, you have security and you're gonna come out and, you know, there's precautions or there's things in place."

Renee Kohn: (13:00)
And so for me, it was about when I knew, when I knew other volunteers that had gone and done the workshop before me and had kind of paved the way, and they said, "You know what? What helped me was, you know, to sit down and eat lunch with them and to ask them certain questions." And so what, instead of them telling me, you need to do X, Y, and Z in this new environment, when they shared what was helpful for them, I thought, wow, okay. Maybe I'll try that on and see how it helps me. And some of the things worked and some of the things didn't, and that's okay.

Lisa Liguori: (13:35)
So true. I have this great chart and it kind of breaks down the difference between experience sharing and advice giving, and I love it. So experience giving starts with I statements, it's past tense, it's a single event and it's specific details. So when I went to the prison ministry, this was my experience. Um, by contrast, advice giving is you statements, future tense, general lessons, and could, should, would. Like Renee, you need to not just worry about it, or what you need to do is blah, blah, blah, or you shouldn't go to the prison.

Lisa Liguori: (14:04)
The thing that astounds me about it is the implications. So advice giving kind of says, I know best, you don't. I trust me, you listen to what I'm saying and it's all about how wise I am. Experience sharing on the other hand is, you know best, I trust you, I hear you, and it's more generous.

Renee Kohn: (14:23)
And I love the fact that to me, it solidifies or creates vulnerabl- vulnerability, because when somebody's sharing their experience, you know, a lot of times it's not pretty, it's messy, there's, you know, different things about it. And it reminds me, oh my gosh, I don't have to have this all figured out, or I don't have to know this all. I can feel my way through it. It gives me permission to feel my way through it.

Lisa Liguori: (14:48)
And how many times have you felt like you're alone and then someone shares an experience and you have that moment where it's so connecting. It's a, you two, or even if it's a little different, it's like you said, it's vulnerable. It's not, I am weak, you're strong, it's, I'm willing to make myself vulnerable and let you know that I've struggled also.

Renee Kohn: (15:07)
Absolutely. I remember when COVID first hit and I really had a pretty strong, uh, PTSD episode come up. It was just, you know, I kinda felt trapped and isolated and it was really challenging. And I was hearing other people and reading about other people, having the same experience and things that helped them, and that grounded me. Number one, oh, okay, I'm not the only one going through this, other people are too. And when I was hearing about what was helping them, it gave me some tools to try, but it didn't feel like I failed if that path didn't work out for me.

Lisa Liguori: (15:42)
Mm-hmm (affirmative)- So true. It doesn't say, this is what you have to do, it simply makes the person vulnerable and says, this is what I did. That is the entire premise of this podcast. And it's something that's not my first instinct, but whenever I do it, it just creates beautiful relationships. We covered a lot here, and there's a guide on that you can go download right now, and it is the five pitfalls that we talked about today, and then some strategies to transition, to making experience showing a habit rather than giving advice.

Renee Kohn: (16:16)
Yeah. And let us know how much closer you feel to people, how much more connected, what vulnerability deepens within you and what was your experience of showing up this way?

Lisa Liguori: (16:27)
Well, this was so fun today to talk about one of my favorite topics on the planet and the whole mission of this podcast. I hope it was helpful to you friend who's listening. It's my deepest desire to connect with you and to help you realize that you're not alone and we're better together. Until we speak again, lots of love. 

Advice Pitfall #1 - Not reflecting on the person's emotions
Advice Pitfall #2 - Not asking permission before giving advice
Advice Pitfall #3 - Telling the person what they should do
Advice Pitfall #4 - Not affirming the person's own wisdom
Advice Pitfall #5 - Sharing your advice instead of your experience
How can you tell if you are giving advice or sharing your experience?
How to download a guide to avoiding the pitfalls of giving advice