Who and How to Ask for Advice

Asking for advice can feel uncomfortable. I've never been the type of person to seek out help, so soliciting someone's input on a problem usually isn't my first instinct. It's something I've improved on, and I'm the first to admit that having people to consult when things get rough makes hardships much easier to bear! I've also learned that not all advice is good advice, and there are times when it's not advantageous to get someone's input. You probably don't agree with all the decisions your friends make, so it's unwise to seek guidance from just anyone in your circle. The only thing worse than getting bad advice is having a person upset with you for not taking it! Make sure the help you're getting is both valuable and serving to strengthen your friendships.

Here are some tips that have helped me in navigating both who and how to ask for advice (and how to keep the connection going afterwards):

Ask the Right Person. Before you approach someone for guidance, think about the way you've seen them react to similar (or totally different!) situations. Your response to this general assessment is a great indicator of whether or not they're someone you should reach out to. I don't recommend asking anyone for advice if you don't have an idea of how they react to conflicts, or if you have a history of disagreeing with their decisions. Everyone reacts to situations differently, so knowing the perspective of your audience is important.

Ask in the Right Way. Most people will be flattered if you ask them for help. When people approach me with questions it makes my day, but for most people, the key is in delivery. For example, everyone hates a "can I ask you something?" text, so instead of giving someone an anxiety attack, just be specific! Leading with something in the nature of "Could I get your advice on a work-related problem?" or "I know you've had experience with X situation so I'd love to pick your brain" is a little bit of flattery that goes a long way and keeps people from going to that dark cavern from a "we need to talk" text. Don't do that to anyone, ever.

Follow Up. Following up is important for so many things, but especially after asking for advice. When someone gives you advice they're doing you a favor, so it's common courtesy to follow-up on the outcome. Anyone willing to help you will be thrilled to know how their guidance affected your life, so be sure to let them know what came of it!

Pay it Forward. Always, always, always. Paying it forward is what makes the world go 'round, so always remember the kindness that has been offered to you and do the same for someone else. You never know when you could make someone's day!

While approaching someone for help still seems daunting, keeping these things in mind has been a big help to me getting over my fear. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent with a drafted text message asking someone if they could shed light on a situation...but I am getting better!

Asking for advice is a great way to touch base with friends you don't chat with often, and allows you to strengthen connections in new ways. If you're getting quality input, it's also a wonderful way to bring fresh perspectives into old situations. If you struggle with it like I do, I hope this helps you conquer your fear!