What Every Friend Should Know About Offering Advice

5 Questions and Responses

I realize it’s hard to find real friends. I’ve heard a lot of complaints over the years about how people don’t really listen, they don’t really care and they don’t really want to connect deeply. But I believe that while it may seem that way on the surface, there are actually WAY more lonely people longing to connect than we realize.

Yesterday one of my articles ran with Her View From Home. The point of the article is this: there are more kindred spirits out there than you probably realize, but it takes courage to find them. I offer some suggestions about how to do so: (click here to read the article and share it if you think it might help someone.)

There is something else I learned about finding connections that feel like kindred spirits.


Photo courtesy of Tauni Morris Photography

We are all different on the surface. Our differences are enormous. Different genders, religions, cultures, stages of life, hobbies, interests, etc. The list is not infinite, but it seems like it is. With all of those differences, how could we ever find someone like us? How could we ever find a kindred spirit?

Let me tell you! By focusing on our humanity. What makes us all human? We all have bodies, thoughts, feelings, goals, longings and deep fears. And we all need love. But you’ll only have surface-relationships if you only talk about surface things. You will keep feeling alone and distant from everyone else if you try to “fit in” by doing what others do and saying what others say. No. If you want to actually connect and be known, if you really don’t want to feel alone, you’ve got to be brave and get to the heart.

Simply being there to listen and see the insides of a person is helpful. You don’t have to change them. Simply inviting a friend out of the darkness of secrecy and shame and into the light where they are loved can change a life! There may be a time for advice, but stick with the 80/20 rule. Listen and acknowledge 80% of the time and then when it feels like the other person is ready, go ahead and offer your wisdom – but only about 20% of the time. If you meet their pain with your wisdom all or most of the time, they’ll start to feel disrespected and tune you out.

5 things to ask and do to see and acknowledge the heart of your friend:

  1. What is my friend excited about right now? Be excited for them without bringing in your own story.
  2. What is my friend afraid of right now? Allow them to admit it without trying to dispel their fears.
  3. What is my friend longing for right now? Assume that there is a longing even deeper than the one they admit, but don’t press too hard. Do they say they long to be married? I’m sure that’s true, but what about being married do they long for? Validation? Companionship? To feel loved?
  4. What is going on underneath my friend’s frustration right now? Is he sad? Does she long for something she can’t find?
  5. How is my friend’s health? Is she getting enough sleep? Does he need a break? Is there anything I can do to relieve their physical burden?

Don’t give up on finding kindred spirits. Don’t give up on connecting and love and hope and the power of loving people right where they are.

The world needs your love.

**Tauni Morris Photography: Facebook (click here)


2 thoughts on “What Every Friend Should Know About Offering Advice

  1. Andrea – I had to comment on this post because it was really relevant to me and made me think about connections/friendships. When we moved to a small town about seven years ago, we found ourselves in a new atmosphere that was difficult for me to deal with. We were surrounded by new neighbors that we hadn’t yet come to know; some of which gave us a warm welcome, and some that did not. I felt so much like an outsider for probably the first four to five years. I had made great friends through my work, but I was longing to connect with the people I saw outside of work on a regular basis – in my neighborhood, at my daughters’ school events, etc. I had that longing for connection. I had been blessed to experience that deep friendship with several women in college, and I wanted to have that feeling of camaraderie, unfailing support and love now in this new chapter of my life. I wanted to feel welcomed in these new communities, but I found many people were very guarded. We’d chat with people, engage in conversation about yards, kids, weather, a growing community, and try to be good neighbors. Every time I’d see a gathering going on in the neighborhood that we weren’t privy to, I’d get sad because I was still an outsider and I again longed for that connection, to feel included. Why couldn’t I be the kind of person these people wanted to hang out with? What was wrong with me? Well, neighbors have come and gone and our lives have continued on, and after getting to know more about people, I came to a great realization. Just because those people didn’t see the value in me, didn’t mean I didn’t have value as a friend. I had to continue being me. I didn’t want to be someone else just to feel like I belong, because in the end, these people wouldn’t know “me”. When I started to let go of those feelings of insecurity in my ability to be a good friend and make good connections, those feelings of being excluded started to fade. When I quit worrying about not finding those kindred spirits in my community, I started to make connections with people that I really COULD connect with. I went back to just being me, and I started feeling more content and happy with my present self – physically and emotionally.

    • Oh Heather, I LOVE this! What a great story! This is awesome: “When I quit worrying about not finding those kindred spirits in my community, I started to make connections with people that I really COULD connect with. I went back to just being me, and I started feeling more content and happy with my present self – physically and emotionally.”

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