There is nothing can be nastier than hearing someone showering you with advices of what you should do and what you should not! And nothing can be more embarrassing than offering advice to someone who then shuts you up! What we really hate in these situations is not the advice itself, but it is the “manner” that drives us away or drives the person we are offering advice to away. As Islam is the religion of etiquette, it provides us with the manners of the art of giving advice to people without any silly or nasty moments Here are some advices on how to give advice:
- Be insightful. If you have an obese friend who is a fast food maniac for example, giving advice to him by telling that he should stop eating fast food and high-carb foods, will get you nothing but a punch in the face The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he first received the revelation, his people were doing everything Islam forbids. What he did is that he did not ask them all at once to stop drinking wine, or stop treating women inequitably, but he spread awareness gradually and insightfully.
- Be compassionate. It is very harsh of you to give advice to someone you do not know much about. The same obese friend, who you think is a food lover, could be facing some psychological troubles that deceive him into considering food as solace. So, among the most important manners of the art of giving advice is to have a good account of the person you are giving advice to, so that your advices are more likely to be heard by him\her and taken into consideration.
- Be nice. It would not be called an art if the person giving advice is not nice. “… you (Muhammad) were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you…” (3:159). So, when you give advice put yourself in the person you are advising shoes. Would you listen to someone rude or silly?
- Give advice in private. Among the basics of the art of giving advice is not to embarrass the person you are advising by rebuking him publically for whatever wrong he is doing. This will hurt his\her feelings and may even backfire by rebuking YOU in public, and it is YOU who will pay the price then:D Instead, seek privacy when you give advice to someone for this will make you sound compassionate enough to listen to you. The Prophet (PBUH) mastered the art of giving advice; when he knew that one of his friends did something wrong, he did not talk to him directly, rather, he talked about the topic generally by saying something like “some people commit some mistake, or many people do not know that this or that is wrong”.
To conclude, giving advice is like giving a gift. Unless you are nice, compassionate, smart, and smiling, your gift will be thrown to your face