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On Giving Advice: Ask Noah

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Q: My friends always ask for my opinion on what they should do with their lives. I find myself lecturing them. They do not respond well, often telling me they are sick of hearing my monologues. I like being someone buddies can count on for advice. But I want to actually help. What do you think?

A: Americans are infatuated with giving advice. From the nightly cable news contributors who pontificate upon political maneuverings, to those water-cooler counselors one encounters at work, offering their latest self-help find.

Americans love telling people what to do with their lives. We are privately and publicly saturated with other people's opinions, and therefore we become of the mind that offering our advice is the expected route.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan: "How many voices can one man hear, before he rolls his eyes and just sighs."

With our personal lives in disarray, we listen to anyone who offers their token of "wisdom." With our countries' structural inequities becoming very self-evident, we buy into the latest quick fix.

I apologetically offer you... (irony acknowledged)... since we are all pre-programmed to do it anyway...

Three Tips on the Art of Advice:

1. Stop talking and start listening.

Want to help someone with a problem? Listen to the actual words being said; try not to spend the conversation anticipating the next moment you can get a word in.

2. People are rarely 100% correct.

Are any of us asinine enough to feel we comprehend every nuance of a given subject? (Rhetorical question).

Lighten up on your "absolutes." Your friends will still think you are smart.

3. Show you actually care.

Watch the moralizing, patronizing, and preaching; it is condescending and makes the conversation all about your perspective.

Observe your ego in action, soften your need to stand on a soapbox, and measure your responses carefully. As your conversing, remember to remain sincere and show empathy through tone of speech and non-verbal communication as well.

Tread lightly my friend, and you will be a more effective and helpful "buddy."

Folks, more questions! Send them to "Ask Noah" at

Watch my appearance this week on the Dylan Ratigan Show.

Have a profitable and peaceful week,