Choose your words carefully.
Respond quickly to the request for advice.
Give yourself time to think your answer through carefully, but let the person know you care about him/her and the situation by sending your letter within a few days of receiving the request.
Keep the tone respectful.
No matter how you may feel personally about the subject you are asked to give advice on or the person who asked for it, keep the tone respectful, helpful and congenial.
- Be careful of appearing judgmental.
Avoid direct or implied criticism.
If you cannot give advice, express your regret
Suggest that someone else would be in a better position to offer such advice. Avoid comments or expressions of personal opinion unless they are complimentary.
If the topic is a sensitive one, consider your approach carefully.
Avoid strong language.
Strong language may discourage your reader.
Give advice only on the subject you have been asked about.
Keep your advice simple and to the point.
Give personal advice only when asked.
Remember that personal advice should be given only when it is clear that someone has sincerely asked you for it. Even then it must be done with caution and sensitivity.
If someone takes your advice, maintain a tone of appreciation without any hint of condescension or feelings of superiority.
Emphasize the reader's strengths, rather than the value of your advice.
When you are the one seeking advice, look to people you know you can rely on.
They should be worthy of your trust and be willing to keep your request confidential.
Show gratitude with a nice letter.
When someone responds to your request for advice, whether you ultimately use the advice or not, it is always a good idea to write a thank-you letter or letter of appreciation.
If you use the advice or suggestion, give appropriate recognition.
If you do not use it, you may wish to keep the advice letter at hand for future reference in case you change your mind.