Why Giving Advice is Not As Helpful as You Think

Why Giving Advice is Not As Helpful as You Think

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Some time ago someone sent me an e-mail asking for advice on a matter. I wrote back saying, “I don’t give advice,” though I did provide some resources related to the question. Later, this person asked me to explain what I meant when I said I don’t give advice, especially given that he knew I did consulting. “Isn’t that what consultants do?” he asked.

Recently, at a conference I dealt with the concept of overfunctioning-underfunctioning reciprocity. At one point I gave a list of examples of overfunctioning. One example was, “Advice giving.” Not surprising from a group in the helping profession, this point generated a lot of questions and discussion. Since many were “experts” who were sought out for their advice, this news was troubling. Participants wanted to know why giving advice was overfunctioning.

Overfunctioning promotes irresponsibility and dependence. While advice giving may seem like a helpful act, ultimately it is counter effective. Here are some reasons why:

There are more helpful strategies for helping than giving advice. Here are some:

Related: upcoming opportunities at the Center for Lifelong Learning to learn more about leadership:

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.

His books on Christian education include The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H).
Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans and to the Digital Flipchart blog.
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