Why Friends Cannot Always Give You the Best Advice.

Friends are an important part of our lives. They offer us support and encouragement and are there to turn to, especially when we are struggling. Science has shown by research that our need for connection is hard-wired into our brains. We are social creatures by nature, and this research has identified that our need for connection may be just as necessary as our need for water and food.

In his book, Connect Happy,  author and  master coach John Borland states; “The more connected you are, the happier you will be, because connection sits at the very heart of your happiness.”

 So, as human beings we strive for friendships and relationships. Someone to talk to when things get tough, and that’s where partners and friends are very much needed. But can they actually give you the very best advice? The absolute best advice that will really benefit you when you need some help? Totally relying on friends can come with its own risks. Here are some of the reasons why:

In a crisis, friends struggle to be objective

Your friend will naturally want to help and comfort you. Having a friend during these times can make a huge difference, however they aren’t always equipped to give you the best advice for YOUR situation. 

During these hard times, helping out practically could be a much better way of assisting. You could offer to help with any jobs that would relieve their pressure, such as cooking a meal and taking it round. Offering to take them out for a treat could give them a sense of normality and be a welcome distraction. There are all sorts of ways we can help in these situations, but most often, the best thing we can do is to simply listen to them. This can have a huge impact on them and their mental well-being, and being a supportive listener is far more useful than offering your own advice. It is well known that just talking about a problem can alleviate the burden which is another reason why coaching is so effective.

The book ‘How to Listen’ by Katie Columbus, includes helpful tips by trained Samaritans and offers some brilliant advice for listening techniques.

Friends are limited by their own life experiences – they don’t have the tools a professional has.

Friends life experiences are totally different from yours, and their ability to understand your thoughts and feelings and emotions will come from their own life experiences. What can happen is your friend could offer you advice based on what they think would work for them in that situation, and this could actually be quite detrimental to you.

A professional works very differently to this. They have the tools to be able to limit the ‘map of their own world’  and work with you objectively.

Friends don’t always have your best interests at heart

Sometimes friends simply do not have your best interest at heart. For example, when it comes to making big life decisions, only YOU will know what’s right for you. Friends can harbour their own opinions about what is right for you, giving you biased advise which may not be in line with your own thoughts. This can then create an element of doubt in your own mind, when in actual fact you were right the first time around. 

When help is required in making important life decisions, large or small, an unbiased, non-judgemental coach will work much better for you. A coach will be more invested in what is right for you, and has the ability to help you dig deep and reach your own decisions.

Your friends may be too close to you

Your friends know you and love you, but sometimes can be too close to you to see your situation objectively. It just means that those closest to us don’t always have the right answers when we go to them asking for advice.

According to Doctor Judith Gordon’s research on relationships at Harvard Medical School: : “The most effective way for people who care about each other is not necessarily by giving advice, but by listening.”

So listening crops up again and again and active listening is the coach’s superpower, it is what we are trained in. Holding space for your client is one of the best things you can give them, and why coaching is so effective.

Friends don’t always tell you the truth

Friends often hide from you what they really want to say because they care about your feelings and simply don’t want to hurt you. They can also tell you what they think you want to hear, and therefore complicating the matter further.

A coach will  take you out of your comfort zone by asking hard and tough  questions to make you think. Having these unique and challenging conservations, that you wouldn’t normally have, will help you in many ways. Often a  coach will reflect back to you what they are hearing, and this is often most revealing to the client.

So is it time to talk to a trained coach?

A coach is trained to listen without judgment, and give you the space and time to figure out what’s best for you with their questioning skills.

Coaches don’t give advice; but they can help you sort through your options and make a plan that takes into account your values, goals and priorities. Working with a coach should start to give you a clear solution moving forwards and accountability. A good coach will challenge you, and push you out of your comfort zone so that you can grow as a person. This can often be challenging and in the words of some of my clients ‘icky’ at first. 

One of my all-time favourite quotes is by the Roman statesman, lawyer and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, he says, ‘No-one can give you better advice than yourself’

Please see my first blog  ‘Personal Growth – Why it’s uncomfortable and how life coaching can help’ which goes on to explain this in more detail.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it has been of some help to you. If you feel like you need the support of a coach and would like to book a 1:1 session with me please contact me here.

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