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Advice On Giving Advice

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Lifehacker today had a nice post about the art of giving advice. It quoted a Psychology Today article titled “What Is The Best Way To Give Advice?” and has this quote from the article, which says that it’s best to give information and not necessarily a recommendation:

For one thing, when someone makes a recommendation for or against a particular option, a decision maker may feel like they have lost a bit of their independence in making a choice. Recommendations about how to go about making the choice may also make a decision maker feel a loss of independence. When the advice comes in the form of information, though, the decision maker still feels like they have some autonomy.

This kind of “advice about giving advice” is sort of a companion to two other guidelines I use in the classroom:

“If you don’t give people the opportunity to say no, you don’t give them the opportunity to say yes, either.”

This is an old community organizer saying and, if it’s not applied often, much of what happens in the classroom will be running off of your energy and not the students’.

Another piece of advice comes from Marvin Marshall. I can’t find the exact quote, but it basically says when you’re giving alternatives to students in a classroom management situation, always give more than two. Usually, when teachers only give students two options, it’s often clearly one very bad one and one that the teacher obviously wants done. In that kind of situation, it’s not really giving them a choice they can “own.”

Feel free to offer your advice on giving advice, or on other good guidelines to keep in mind….

Thanks to Alexander Russo for the tip on Lifehacker…

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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