When someone asks you for advice, it can be hard to tell if they actually want your help or if they just want someone to vent to. Before you offer your words of wisdom, ask them this question first.
Photo by John Beeching.
As Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich explains, people seeking advice are often after something completely different. Maybe they want to complain without admitting that they're complaining. Or maybe they just want you to tell them they're doing fine and everything is alright. The only way to know for certain is to ask them this first: "Out of curiosity, how serious are you?"
Their answer will tell you whether they want comfort or actual, detailed advice. Sethi suggests that if their answer is anything less than something like "I'll try anything you say," just give them a smile, offer some support, and tell them they will figure it out.
How to give advice that people actually take [I Will Teach You To Be Rich]