When Offering Advice Doesn’t Work…

Have you ever been frustrated by the way someone else is living their life? Specifically, have you ever been frustrated when someone is doing something dumb and they don’t see it?

In those moments we try to give advice, but often the advice isn’t accepted. This is when we end up losing sleep at night. We think, “How could they not see this” or “How could they be so dumb?”

The problem is until someone is seeking advice they will not receive advice well.

If someone doesn’t know they have a problem or they don’t believe it’s a problem they will not receive your advice.

Even if your advice is the best ever, it will not land well until they seek it.

When someone doesn’t receive our advice the temptation is to bring threats. We think if we can take away something or show them how this will hurt them in the long run then they will change.


Threats only create wedges in the relationship. Threats only communicate instability and create unsafe environments. People are going to do what they want to do. Threats just make sure they will hide what they are doing from you.

Almost every smoker knows the risks of lung disease. Almost every obese person knows the risk of diabetes. The damage of bad habits are well known. And yet we all ignore the warning signs. Being yelled at rarely changes anyone’s mind.

So when you force advice on someone it creates a wedge between the relationship.

Instead of arguing someone into listening we have to try a different approach.

This isn’t easy, but it is healthier.

Empathy + questions + vision = a change of perspective.

It is virtually imposible to help someone without empathy. Empathy attempts to walk in the other person’s problems. You may not agree with it, but you must seek to understand how they go there.

Empathy shows you care.

Questions help the other person come up with the right answer. As humans we hate being told what to do. Feeling like we have a choice results in a higher percentage of life change.

Questions like…

  • How is this working out for you?
  • How is this working out for those you love?
  • If roles were reversed what would you tell me to do in this situation?
  • What have you seen help you with this in the past?

Finally, vision helps offer a new direction.

You can’t force a vision. You can only paint a picture of it. This again comes through questions.

  • When you tell your story in five years what do you want to be a part of it?
  • When people talk about your life, what do you want to be known for?
  • How can what you ultimately want be matched with what you currently do?

It is so frustrating when someone won’t listen to advice. It’s even more frustrating when they don’t even agree with the advice given.

In order to truly help people we have to hold onto the fact that we cannot control anyone. We have a hard enough time controlling ourselves. If we really want to help people it comes from loving them well through their mess.


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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.


  1. Lauren Cory
    January 12, 2018

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  2. January 12, 2018

    Yep, this is right on Rob! Thanks so much!


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