At The Lesbian Question your “Comment” is more like “Your Advice.” When you leave a comment for a post many times you are pulling from your own live experiences to give advice to the submitter. Women from all over the world register and post their questions on TLQ to ask for advice, guidance, and to know they are not alone. As a reader of TLQ you are more than just an onlooker. You are able to help those that have come to this site for advice. Please, if you have some advice to give make sure you give it. There is nothing worse than a cry for help via a post that receives no comments from our readership. These women continue to come back to this blog to see what you had to say. We need you… they need you.
Some advice on giving advice:
- Put yourself in the advisee’s shoes. Try to imagine yourself in the other person’s situation. If you’ve been in a similar situation, think about what you learned, but don’t rely solely on your experiences to give advice–imagine that you are giving yourself advice for the unique circumstances that the other person is facing.
- Think about the consequences of taking your advice. While you’re at it, think about the consequences of not taking your advice. If there’s no significant difference between the results of those two scenarios, your advice might not be bad, but it’s not useful either. Ditto if the action you advise is impossible. If you can envision the path you suggest leading to a worse result than an alternative path would, your advice probably is bad.
* Take your time. When possible, think long and hard about all the possible courses of action and consider the pros and cons (or the benefits and costs) of each. This is especially important for more complex problems.
* Think about both the short term and long term consequences of your advice. Very important decisions are usually very important because of their long term effects. Think as far down the road as possible.
- Empathize. Many matters require sensitivity and thoughtfulness. If you really try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes (as suggested above), empathy will probably develop naturally. Even so, be very careful about how you word your advice and be sensitive to the other person’s feelings and emotional state. Giving advice is more than a logical exercise. It usually involves helping a person sort through conflicting emotions as much as conflicting choices.
- Brainstorm with the person. Sometimes there is no clearcut right answer to a problem. In this case, try to help the person mull over all the alternatives so that he or she can reach a conclusion together with you or on their own. Even for very simple questions, it can be beneficial to help the person develop his or her own advice, if only for the reason that he or she is more likely to take it.
- Be honest. If your advised course of action has potential drawbacks, tell the person about them. If you don’t really feel qualified or knowledgeable enough about something to give advice on it, be honest about this fact. Your goal should not be to blindly lead the person, but rather to help him or her make a good decision, so don’t act like a salesman.
- Set a good example. If you advise one thing but do the opposite, your advice will be seen as phony and hypocritical. If you do as you say, however, people will be more likely to respect your advice.
- Understand that the person may not take your advice. Just because someone asks for your advice, they are not obligated to take it. Realize that the other person almost always knows more about their particular situation and desires than you do, so you can never be sure that your advice is really the best for them. Understand that people will sometimes ask advice just in order to bounce ideas off of you, and don’t be surprised if a person rejects even good advice and decides to make his or her own mistake. Live with it, and let the person live with his or her decision.
More than anything you are the backbone of this blog. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read the posts sent in to The Lesbian Question and giving our readers your honest advice. I understand it’s not something that you have to do, and I cannot express enough how grateful I am that you take the time to do it.
When I was growing up I wish there was a website like TLQ out there. A place where I could come and read about what other lesbian women of all ages, races, and locations were going through. A site where I felt safe and was reminded every day that I wasn’t alone.
With the rash of LGBTQ suicides I believe that what TLQ stands for is even more important now. With your words of encouragement and the sharing of your own life experience you let the readers of this blog know that it will get better. You share with them your truths and the hard times that you had to go through to get where you are.
I realize that many of you will never get a face to face thank you from those individuals who sent in the posts you have commented on. But I hope you know that they do read what you have to say. Your contributions, no matter how big or small, mean so much. Let’s do all we can to make sure every question gets at least one answer!
Please respect the Comment Policy and understand that all “Hook up” comments, those that contain phone numbers, and those comments which do not contain advice/something associated with the original post will be deleted by the site moderators.
Thank you so much!
TLQ Managing Editor