Get my 5-day email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch

Want an email sales funnel that's already proven to work? Get the entire word-for-word email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch and apply it to your own business.

Yes! Send me the funnel now
Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Habits”

How to give advice without being a jerk

57 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

2

I have a feeling I’m going to be really bad at dying. Here’s my plan: In my old age, about a year before I die, I’ll start joking to my kids about what my last words should be. They’ll get really mad and sad and shift uncomfortably in their chair because, really, who wants to talk about their dad dying?

And then, months later, surrounded by a loving family on my deathbed, I’ll finally say this:

“I’ve loved you all for my entire life. The most important thing I learned is…” DIE

THEY’LL NEVER KNOW!!

Is it wrong to know that I’ll be laughing even while my life slips away from this green earth?

If your face is curled into a massive look of disgust, you might be too sensitive to read this site. Speaking of being sensitive…

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of fun giving advice and sharing what I’ve learned. I used to get frustrated when people didn’t listen. Why didn’t they just follow my advice when I could objectively solve their problems?

It took me a long time to realize that information alone doesn’t persuade. If it did, we’d all be rich, fit, and in perfect relationships. (See one of my favorite examples of how information alone doesn’t help people lose weight.)

The short story is that author Clotaire Rapaille was speaking at a university conference where the other speakers were talking about the importance of obesity education. He looked around the room and said this:

“I think it is fascinating that the other speakers today have suggested that education is the answer to our country’s obesity problem,” I said. I slowly gestured around the room. “If education is the answer, then why hasn’t it helped more of you?”

Who else has tried to give good advice, only to have your friend, mom/dad, or boyfriend/girlfriend ignore it? Even when they genuinely wanted to change?

Hmm. If information is not the answer, how do you give advice?

Check out this 4-minute video where I share:

  • What happened when I tried to give people the “right answer” about their finances (1:22)
  • The factors that influence behavior change besides information (2:01)
  • One simple, easy way to drastically improve your communication (2:40)
  • How to walk the line between honesty and sensitivity (3:14)
  • What people REALLY want when they ask for advice (3:46)

After you watch the video, leave a comment below: Have you ever had a friend or family member who refused to follow advice? Why do you think that is?

2

Related Articles

standard post picture

How to not hate live events

I recently spoke at a conference in the Bay Area where the speaker introduced me as saying, “AND WE GOT ...

Read More
untitled-design-9

The diffusion of responsibility: Why you need to stop CC’ing people

I receive 1,000+ emails every day. And while I read every one of them, most emails get ignored. That’...

Read More

57 Comments

2
 

Leave a Reply

57 Comments on "How to give advice without being a jerk"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Tim
2 years 3 months ago
My brother curses like a sailor. He has a 4 year old boy who’s starting to pick up on it and it bothers him. The first time I talked to him about it, I was calm and winsome, and he softened and considered the possibility that it might be his fault. But… Well, it hasn’t changed. I’ve put what seems like appropriate amounts of pressure on him based on the relationship we share, and he hasn’t relented. I think it’s important to remember this: while it’s a good thing to come alongside as a friend and give advice to hurting… Read more »
Tom
2 years 3 months ago

Love it Ramit! Very funny and love the content.
Something I used to be very guilty of was giving information to people who didn’t want it.
I was the guy who was constantly giving the unsolicited advice (especially at school when I was just learning about this self-development stuff).
It took me much longer than it should have to learn to only give advice to people who specifically ask me
Thank God I know better know!

Ash
2 years 3 months ago

I love you.

Ilana B.
Ilana B.
2 years 3 months ago
Wow! I wish I had seen this video before I got married (and subsequently divorced 5 years later). I married someone who valued (brutal) honesty. The conversation that stands out for me is when we were talking about illness or cancer (probably triggered by some current event) and I asked, “If I had to have a mastectomy, would you still love me?” His answer: “It would be hard.” Of course, I flipped out but then it became my fault for asking the question. Didn’t I want him to be honest? The only answer to that I could see at that… Read more »
Emmy
Emmy
2 years 3 months ago
Questions like that, I’ve only seen asked in that way by people who are insecure. “Do I look fat in this?” is better replaced by something to the effect of “Which outfit do you like better?” which will tell you what you wanted to know – which dress to buy, or if my new suit really is as flattering as I thought it was in the store; without the underlying insecurity of a question like “Does this make me look fat?” Try replacing your own language, if you want better results from people you’re asking. Otherwise you’ll probably get the… Read more »
Lizzie T.
Lizzie T.
2 years 3 months ago
I never give advice unless specifically asked, unless you count things like, “Yo, it is possible that three cupcakes and a glass of coffee milk is not a wise bedtime snack for our four-year-old, but hey, you’re the one putting him to bed tonight, so whatever.” I assume that people are already doing what they want to do, so any unsolicited advice from me is more or less the same thing as my saying, “Hey, you should stop doing what you obviously want to do and do something different, that you don’t want to do, and that I you don’t… Read more »
Bret S.
Bret S.
2 years 3 months ago
I used to be an attorney (I know! I’m sorry!), and one of the things that always astounded me was people who not only chose to ask me for advice, but actually PAID me to give them advice… and then decided to ignore it because, I think, it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Now, this gibes perfectly with what you say, because is 99.44% of these cases the person seeking advice was not someone I knew well, but in a way it still blows my mind. One beneficial side-effect of this phenomenon, however, was that I have become more… Read more »
Bret S.
Bret S.
2 years 3 months ago

That’s “IN” 99.44% of these cases, not “IS” 99.44% of these cases. Dammit, Ramit, why can’t I edit? (See how I just blamed you for my own failure to proofread carefully?)

Mark
Mark
2 years 3 months ago
Well, to be fair Bret, I was going through a divorce and my wife and her family were un-fricking real with the games they were playing. After a couple of years of them playing games and holding things up, it came down to the wire to make a final deal and they started trying to use use-car negotiating tactics on me. Multiple times in prior months my lawyer told me I should take shit-deals to avoid going to court because “I could end up worse off” in the 50/50 state of CT. So I’m in my lawyers office and he… Read more »
Lina
Lina
2 years 3 months ago

What career do you have now since leaving law? I know lawyers who want to leave the practice of law and dont’t know what to do?

Martin
2 years 3 months ago

Love it.

One thing though: When you say that only assholes talk like that, you’re forgetting that lots of people just don’t know any better. They honestly think brutal honesty is (or might be) best – and they’re being perceived as assholes to be sure, while their intentions are fine. In the end though, how we’re perceived matters more. 1000 good intentions amount to nothing if we’re perceived in a negative way.

Junaid Dawud
2 years 3 months ago
I think our risk aversion is one thing that often keeps us from acting on information. We often fear failure more than we desire success which keeps us from using the information we already have that could move us towards success. In my experience, most of the time when someone seeks explicit advice or steers the conversation in a direction that prompts it, they aren’t seeking new info. You can tell because they keep saying things like: “I know”, “you’re always right about this”, “I’ve been trying to but..”. The key to advice isn’t to tell them what they already… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
2 years 3 months ago

Or the other way it is risk aversion is people don’t want to tell you the truth because it provokes a negative reaction. It is much easier to tell someone what they want to hear. Failing that, it’s easier to be blunt than to give advice in a gentle enough way someone will not get defensive. Even then, they may ignore it or get angry because they don’t want to hear it.

Hannah
2 years 3 months ago

This reminds me of when a friend in high school was talking to me about what she should do because she had cheated on her boyfriend and (for some reason) she felt like I was the best person to tell because I was least judgemental.

I wanted to say that was really stupid and you clearly need to tell him and break up… But I listened for a while and was a bit softer w/ my advice.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey
2 years 3 months ago

But, being brutally honest is so much more entertaining! Why do you think we listen to you?

Bob Rowell
Bob Rowell
2 years 3 months ago
Good stuff, Ramit. I like the modeling of the socially adept peer advice. My friends don’t often get annoyed by my offering advice, but they seldom act on it (short-term, anyhow). The situations that come to mind involve me listening to their problem and offering a fairly detailed (often written) suggestion. My friends appreciate my consideration and effort, and usually applaud the content. But there is no implementation, even though they refer to it later, sometimes months later. I usually feel quite frustrated. I know that information alone rarely results in action. (Thanks, BTW, for the case study!) But when… Read more »
Rachel
Rachel
2 years 3 months ago

My friends are the same then they repeatedly tell me they really wish they had listened to me or were listening. There really is no response to that…

Jesse
2 years 3 months ago
I dig it. Also used to be guilty of giving unsolicited advice. Now only give when asked, and just try to be a good listener. I never had much of a problem being honest, but I used to be in the habit of dancing around issues/sensitive answers for fear for simply offending the other party, even when they were asking for brutal honesty. I’ve learned that when advice/opinions about certain topics is in fact asked for, true honesty is more valuable. What kind of friend would I be if all I did was provide empty comfort? The hollow kind, I… Read more »
Andie
Andie
2 years 3 months ago
Is that a pink shirt?! 😀 Anywho, I have one friend who comes to me all the time for advice. She never takes my advice. After thinking about why this was, I realized my friend did not really want my advice since she would do the exact opposite of what I would suggest. Then, I started telling my friend to do what I did not want her to do and because of this she began doing what was in her best interest. Funny how this works out! I know her so well and am surprised it took me a little… Read more »
Jacob
Jacob
2 years 3 months ago

Please send me more information from your finisher’s formula

Vivek
Vivek
2 years 3 months ago
Ramit, this is hilarious. Usually I am the guy who is universally liked. But, you rubbed off on me and this is what happened: I volunteered to organize a meditation class recently. One of the guys from an email list I posted on said, “Not this time but can you keep me posted?” In the past I would’ve made it my job to remind him. This time I took a page out of your book and wrote back: “About “keep me posted”, let me be honest with you. 9 times out of 10 people who say “keep me posted” never… Read more »
Smita
2 years 3 months ago
I can relate to you very well Vivek because that’s what I have done always. I tell my clients not to hire me if they are not serious about changing their lives. I tell them that I am committed for their success but they need to be committed themselves or it would be a waste of their time and money and waste of my effort and time. As a result most of them enroll and are fully committed and rest who are not committed just filter out and they do me a favor 🙂 This keeps my success rate quite… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
2 years 3 months ago
Good for you for saying no and pushing back. Why let other people make you frustrated. However, your e-mail came off as frustrated and it is long. You could do the same thing with saying something like this below. “Hi Name, While we appreciate your interest in the course we do not give reminders. (second sentence here about why if you feel the need, but something polite and true like it takes up too much time to manage on top of classes). If you are interested in signing up for a later session please set a reminder on your calendar… Read more »
Sean
2 years 3 months ago
My education background is Health and Fitness and quite often my friends will ask for my advice and proceed to do nothing about it. Quite often I find that the copious amounts of conflicting information, the realization that health and fitness require long term effort and focus, and also the reality that the boring stuff (diet and exercise wise) is what works more often than not can by intimidating and demotivating. Also though, I have found that I am also slow to follow the advise of others more or less due to my stubbornness to ask for help and trust… Read more »
Leah
Leah
2 years 3 months ago

Love the take away message: People don’t want honesty initially. They first want someone to be a friend and listen without judgement.

These videos are quality and entertaining to watch.

Andrea
2 years 3 months ago
It’s funny. I thought this piece was going to be about how to become an expert. I get a lot of visits from people looking for information about that on my blog, which covers consulting. But this piece is great. People really do want to be heard, more than they want advice. That’s why, in consulting, it’s so important to listen to people and hear them and help them feel heard. I used to work in the counselling department of a university and I also did a peer counselling program as a teen. I swear I have learned from those… Read more »
Payuk Nay
2 years 3 months ago

Good post Ramit. But… Gray hair now? haha

Jessica
Jessica
2 years 3 months ago
My aunt gives unsolicited advice and then asks for advice but doesn’t do it. This is the only woman I know who will hire a nutrionist to get a better diet and won’t listen to a word that’s said. But if Dr.Oz says eat more fruits she has every fruit imaginable in her fridge. Recently she was let go from her job. Now I know she just wants the “pity party” but that’s not going to do any good. So I gave her some quick beneficial tactics she could use just to get the ball rolling. Maybe some of your… Read more »
Kat
Kat
2 years 3 months ago
I do have to admit that some relatives and friends have stopped calling me and asking me questions if they don’t really want my honest (sometimes brutal) answer–and I like that a lot. I mean, if you don’t want me to be honest, why call me? 😉 Despite that, I understand and agree with your points and am working on not giving unsolicited advice and being more of “a friend.” My question is: I will be nicer to others but since I personally don’t like this smooth, friendly, non-opinionated approach and I REALLY want someone to tell me when I… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
2 years 3 months ago

Kat, you find a few people who are like minded and after forming a relationship with them, ask for the advice. You may have to start small and ask them and it may get to the point of the frank FYI. You also have to react in a positive manner so they repeat it. One of the reasons most people don’t give advice is that other people don’t take it well. Why bother if someone will get upset, defensive or won’t listen.

Jean F
Jean F
2 years 3 months ago
I’m a writer and editor. Sometimes people have asked me to review something they’ve written. Based on previous experience, I now ask them – “Do you want my real opinion or do you want me to tell you it’s good?” If their answer is the latter, I tell them I can’t help them and don’t bother reading it or giving them any feedback. Someone I know told me how a friendship recently dissolved because of her honest response to the query “What do you think of my boyfriend?” She said, “He’s not good enough for you” and her friend dropped… Read more »
Mark
Mark
2 years 3 months ago
My Ex-Wife used to come to me for advice about everything. I used to be straight forward and honest. Then I would find out that she asked 15 other people the same question and then made up her mind based on some other criteria. She was neurotic so she needed a feedback loop to make her feel better. Most of the time she had her mind made up and was just looking for validation. If she asked 15 people their opinion, and 5 out of 15 said what she wanted to hear, she felt validated. But if she took the… Read more »
Kevin
Kevin
2 years 3 months ago

For years I have been trying to help my friends with their finances by giving them advice. Most of the times, they don’t listen because what I’m telling them to do involves work and a lot of people don’t want to put in the work to change their lives.

Carm
Carm
2 years 3 months ago

This couldn’t be more relevant.

Most people want resources more than brutal honesty. It seems what most people want is to learn the “truth” about who they are and what they can do differently for themselves in a kind and constructive way.

There are always underlying circumstances. Helping them find the right resources to figure out their truth is how you empower someone to create a better future for themselves.

This was great. Thank you.

Brendan
Brendan
2 years 3 months ago
Ramit, I wish I had watched this video years ago, because I was always the guy asking this question. I was always valued in academic settings, because in such a setting most people actually want the *right answer* for the test. That was simple. But in social settings? Nah, people didn’t want the right answer, but I always had it for them anyway. Adding insult to injury, I am a Republican, so my political views lean AWAY from politically correct (though I have gotten better expressing those, by necessity). I recently stopped talking about politics on facebook (or anywhere else)… Read more »
Eric
2 years 3 months ago

I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds this frustrating.

I’ve learned that often people just want emotional support at first. “I’ve just got 5 overdraft fees!” A good response: “That must suck.” After you’ve got the emotional rapport going, then you can lead into the advice phase, if that’s what they want.

Avery
2 years 3 months ago

But it is so much fun nailing them right between the eyes with the TRUTH!

Do you really care about what others think about you and whether or not they like you?

Make them respect you even when they hate you!

I am brutal when it comes to local politicians saying something that’s not accurate or just plain stupid. They hate me but they respect me because the facts are on my side.

So if your lardass friend can’t stay away from the doughnuts..that’s their choice. Don’t sugarcoat the answer…they get enough of that BS already.

Guy
Guy
2 years 3 months ago
Hi Ramit, I enjoyed that. What you are saying makes sense, and it sounds a lot like what I try to do in my job. I work in health care, and a lot of my patients have health-related issues that stem from unhealthy behaviors. Saying to them: “Well if you didn’t shoot up meth every day you’d probably avoid a lot of these abscesses and might even have kept a few of your teeth” does not help a bit, even though it is the truth. Instead I ask them what it is about meth they enjoy, what are the things… Read more »
trackback

[…] You’ll learn how to communicate effectively while still “being honest.” For more information, visit http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/how-to-give-advice-without-being-a-jerk/ […]

Luci
Luci
2 years 3 months ago

I love this video! I’ve believed that honesty with compassion and tact is usually the correct way to answer somebody while leading them to their own answer by asking gentle questions.
Fantastic video! Thank you Ramit!

George W.
George W.
2 years 3 months ago

You really don’t need any more comments, however…. your video really brought home the importance of who your per group is–thank you for that. Is passive aggressive synonymous with honest non-acehole?

Simone
Simone
2 years 3 months ago
I used to give advice as a hobby on an anonymous relationship advice forum. And I was pretty decent at analyzing issues and pinpointing problems as well as how to approach people so they are the most receptive. A small percentage of people took the advice at face value and put it to work. The majority spent part of their time debating it with me and a few other cohorts about their thoughts on the matter to work out the conclusion. But in the end a good amount of them either agreed to follow the advice and actually did or… Read more »
Aaron
Aaron
2 years 3 months ago
Great video, Ramit! I wouldn’t take the advice given by my younger brother because of how judgemental he would be when giving it. It didn’t matter what I did, for him, I was never “good enough”. He always claimed he wanted what was best for me but then proceeded to make feel lousy about myself by putting me down based on what I already know (yes, I know my job sucks and need a better paying gig, thank you very much). I finally came around to bettering myself without his “advice” by listening to others who took a genuine and… Read more »
JT
JT
2 years 3 months ago
There have been plenty of times that I’ve been too honest. I’ve gotten a lot better about keeping my unsolicited opinion to myself, but I’m still not always helpful when my advice is sought. I can also be pretty resistant to advice from others, even when I can objectively admit that the advice is sound. This kicks in particularly strongly for things I’ve put a lot of time, energy, or emotion into (even unhealthily so). Some of the time I’m either looking back and feeling like the effort I put in would be wasted if I changed what I did.… Read more »
Steve
Steve
2 years 3 months ago

Note that NONE of the situations presented in your videos were phrased as questions. People often confuse someone complaining and venting as an opportunity for unsolicited advice when they really just want someone to commiserate with or console them–back to your point about being more sensitive.

They know they have a problem. But even if you say it nicely, you’re still providing them with solutions to problems they are NOT looking for answers to. Most people are more interested in reducing cognitive dissonance about their problem than actually solving the problem.

Arthur
Arthur
2 years 3 months ago

Most of the time, we ask advice because we ALREADY know what we should do.
Other times we really want to see the subject from different angles.

So we have 2 possibilities:

1. We look for people who pat us on the back and reinforce our current opinion/behaviours/patterns – CONFORT&approval.

2. We genuinely seek other perspectives on the matter to choose the best one for our situation.

So, my take is that one doesn’t follow advice for fear of getting out of their comfort zone, whatever that might be.
I do this myself.

Rachel
Rachel
2 years 3 months ago

The older I get the more I realize there is a large percentage of people who just make irrational bad decisions, know what they should do, but can’t be bothered to do it. The closest I have come to offering advice they take is to hear them out, give a personal story about how I fixed that in my own life, then act nonchalant and change the subject. They don’t get defensive but then sort of feel like they thought of it themselves. Still, those that can barely make themselves start can rarely make themselves finish.

Dave Lalonde
Dave Lalonde
2 years 3 months ago

I totally agree with what you said about how people just want you to listen to them and be their friend. People don’t just ramble on to you for no reason. 😉 This was a great post. Thank you.

Patti
Patti
2 years 3 months ago
Good advice, it’s all in the delivery. Tone of voice, language used; everyone is different. Spot on that initially it’s about the person wanting to be heard non-judgmentally. My question is what happens once all of the “niceties” are addressed and the person(s) still don’t take the advice they asked for; it’s almost like they enjoy re-addressing their issues for entertainment value. I have a holistic health coaching certification and am unsuccessful due to most clients simply not following the advice given…I thought for the longest that it was because I don’t have formal training in the coaching aspect of… Read more »
Eric
Eric
2 years 3 months ago
I would say 98% of the time I have a conversation with a peer or friend the other person is NOT looking for advice. As someone who thinks I’m awesome and always has great advice, I’ve struggled for years to not blurt out my opinions at every opportunity in these conversations. For example, after reading your book Ramit I felt so empowered by my new knowledge and financial freedom. As a college student I knew that I had achieved a level of mastery that many of my fellow students could benefit from, so I began to offer unsolicited financial advice… Read more »
Nina
2 years 3 months ago

How much you care about the relationship will be the extent to which you want to slow down, listen, be non judgmental and be a friend.

My favorite response is to validate (Aw, you got overdraft fees!) and then ask what got in the way (How did that happen?). Usually that’s enough. People know how to answer it. Whether they change is a personal choice and their responsibility.

Mike @ TransformingStigma.Com
2 years 3 months ago

Thanks Ramit!

This is some of the best advice you have given.

It really resonated with me because it’s something I struggle with. People come to me for advice on a daily basis. I will do a better job of listening thoroughly and listening ‘in between the lines’.

Cathy
Cathy
2 years 3 months ago

Oh man Ramit, this video is SO perfect for what you just described.
“It’s not about the nail”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

George
2 years 3 months ago

The advice isn’t wrong just because it is ignored, right? Advice has to be timed right. Also, the person that gives the advice has to be respected the receiving end.
I think the challenge is to accomplish the above.
Advice to the wrong person and the wrong time = waste of time

Shanice
2 years 3 months ago

I guess I’m morbid because I saw your post and video as being hilarious.

I’m reading this book called “Quiet Leadership” by David Rock which basically talks about how people have to come up with their own ideas in order to change rather than you telling them what to do. It’s pretty interesting information and has been helping me to not always be a “fixer” of a problem but to just help the person figure out the answer on their own. When people figure out their own answers, they’ll be more likely to follow through.

Rob
Rob
2 years 3 months ago
Excellent video Ramit. These concepts reminds me of two things I learned concerning human behavior. In each person there are two major fears: 1. Fear of not being good enough 2. Fear of not being loved If someone speaks to another person and steps on either one of these issues, the other person will blow up, almost every time. A perfect example is when you mentioned the person with financial problems and the other person in the conversation was a jerk and called him out on not being financially responsible (This steps on the fear of not being good enough).… Read more »
shona
shona
6 months 23 days ago

Great video Ramit. Thank you for being you. I have also found that people I have listened to are not necessarily looking for answers or solutions, but to be heard and validated.
Most people KNOW what they need to or have to do.

wpDiscuz