Use your two ears and one mouth accordingly.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had many clients say to me, “Dan, you’re the first money guy that doesn’t make me feel stupid.”

Warms my heart! But it takes practice to earn those remarks from the people I coach.

If someone asks you for advice–about money or anything else–here are the tips I keep in mind.

1. Leave the judging to the court system.

The past is in the past, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. When a person asks me for help, I keep in mind that they are looking for a change.

It’s also important to remember that everyone is at a particular stage in life. If they were as excellent at handling money as I am, they wouldn’t be asking me for advice.

It takes courage to seek assistance because doing so makes us vulnerable. We are saying, “I’m not perfect and have made mistakes. I’m having trouble, and I need help.”

This past year, our 75-pound Doberman was left alone for a wee bit too long, and she ripped up a section of the hallway carpet. At the time, my wife and I had no clue about installing carpet.

After ignoring the problem for months, I finally asked a friend to come over to look at the situation. Being far more experienced in home repairs, he took one look and immediately knew what to do.

The repairs were easier than we imagined. Our problem was solved, and we felt great!

In fact, I was more embarrassed about having waited so long to ask for help than not knowing the solution.

2. Be extremely curious and ask lots of questions.

If you have ever felt nervous explaining a car problem to a mechanic or a computer problem to tech support, you’re not alone. Every industry has its unique language, and not everyone is fluent.

One of my favorite books of all time is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. The fifth habit is, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

When someone comes to me for help, I ask tons of questions. I make sure I understand the situation this person is experiencing. It’s tough to help someone solve a problem if I don’t know what the problem is.

If someone asks you for advice, take extra time to hear the whole story. Poke, prod, and dive into their situation.

No one cares what you know until they know that you care, and asking enough questions to see the entire picture is paramount.

3. Listen carefully without enabling gossip or complaints.

Although it is important to listen, be careful you aren’t letting someone gossip or complain. There is a gray area–between explaining and complaining–that’s hard to define.

You have probably watched kids shift from explaining to complaining in a heartbeat. One moment they’re telling you a story and then their voice suddenly becomes a little higher pitched.

It’s not their fault! Someone else “did this” and another kid, “said that.” Well, adults aren’t much different.

If you want to give someone advice without letting them gossip or complain, keep them talking about how they felt or what they did.

When an explanation shifts to events that are out of a person’s control, you start down a slippery slope. It doesn’t happen right away, but as soon as you hear their voice and wording change, interrupt with a question to keep them on track.

Keep them focused on what they can control and keep listening.

Give advice only if asked.

Finally, avoid giving unsolicited advice. It usually falls on deaf ears.

But if someone does ask you for advice, be sure you’re ready to:

  1. Accept them without judgment
  2. Ask questions, listen, and understand
  3. Keep them from gossiping or complaining

Giving cookie-cutter advice can make you seem cold or uninterested, and that hurts your relationships. Either go all in or suggest someone else they can turn to for advice.


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