Chanakya Thoughts: Three golden rules of becoming a wise advice giver

All of us need advice at every stage of life. As children, we need advice and guidance from elders, parents and teachers. As youngsters we need advice on choosing our educational courses, careers and even life partners.

Even in our workplaces, we seek advice to sort out problems and challenges we face. In marriage and other domestic issues such as dealing with spouse, parenting and carrying out other responsibilities, we require advice.

Even at the last stage of our lives, we look for advice on how to distribute our property, wealth and other assets. We require advice for any small or big decisions we take.

From taking care of our health, to planning a vacation, or moving our residence to new location – advice is a must. And the most important, even in our inner spiritual journey, we require a guru. Progress is not possible without an adviser.

Life is full of twists and turns. And at every point, we require guides and advisers. In short, life is nothing but getting the right advisers at every stage. But have you seen this from another dimension? We are also advisers to many.

Yes, we consciously or unconsciously give advice to others. Without knowing, we impact the lives of others who seek our advice. When someone asks you guidance on how to choose a career, or where to invest money or even which medicine to take – you become an adviser, a guide a mentor. And, an adviser can make or break you. It all depends on the right advice and the right adviser.

So, let us see how to become a good adviser to others. Chanakya was a great adviser. He was kingmaker. His advices and guidance helped not only Chandragupta Maurya to become a great leader, but he also helped and guided many others after him.

So what is Chanakya’s advice to advisers?

He says,

“Sit and counsel with those who are matured in intellect”

(1.15.20-21)

The first thing to note is that we should only get counsel and advice from those who are matured in intellect. So, maturity is required for being a good adviser. One may wonder if I have the quality and ability to become a good adviser? Don’t worry, if we develop the right attitude and with a bit of training, we can also become good advisers. To start off, there are some tips you can follow.

1. Order versus advice

It is typical in Indian scenario that we are used to giving orders. In offices, we are generally ordering people around to get work done. As seniors, this is something we should stop. Of course, every organisation should have some protocols and systems.

Yet, if you can be a mentor and advisor to your juniors, you will turn into a ‘great leader’ from a ‘hated boss’. Advice comes from maturity, experience and insights.

I have met people who were in powerful government positions. They were so used to ordering their staff, that they were not valued after their retirement. You can be a ‘good adviser’ to the same government department even after retirement. In families, the elders should stop ordering grown-ups and advise them about what is right and wrong, good and bad.

2. Be detached

While giving advice, one should be detached. Even if the other person does not listen to your advice, you should be fine. You should not be frustrated when others do not take your advice seriously.

Many so-called advisers and consultants make this mistake. Instead of being a catalyst in the growth of the company, they start believing that they are the people who actually run the company.

Only when you are detached, will the real and practical advice come from you. I will give my best advice, but whether they follow it or not, should not be your agenda.

Insisting should not be the way of an adviser. Detachment is the way forward. In the Mahabharata, King Dhritarashtra had many good advisers such as Bhishma and Vidura. But, the king did not act on their advice. Though the great advisers were sad, they did not get frustrated. This is detachment.

3. Be honest

An adviser should be honest and not have any selfish interest. You must have seen many people coming as advisers but are actually sales agents. They are not really concerned about the person, but concerned about the sales targets to be achieved.

Your personal ethics matter a lot here. And therefore, you should not only be honest with others, but you have to be honest with yourself first. Also, while giving advice, don’t make it too serious. Use humour and make the person feel light. Remember this golden formula: “Be careful from whom you take an advice. This is our advice.”

(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a bestselling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his twitter @rchanakyapillai)

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