Whether you're dealing with a breakup or deciding if you should get bangs, you're going to come to a crossroad in your life when you just need the opinion of a friend. According to a Purdue University study, there are serious benefits to getting a second opinion. Friends can help you understand your options more clearly and provide helpful perspective when you're making a difficult decision. But, as we sometimes learn the hard way, just because she is your friend doesn't mean that she is the perfect pick for guidance about your issue. So how do you choose who to go to for guidance?
01. She has been through something similar.
Who better to talk to than someone who has been through exactly what you are dealing with? She can offer advice on what you could do—and what you shouldn't do—based solely on her firsthand experience (and mistakes). So if your friend is open to divulging, take her up on it. According to one psychologist,"Research suggests that while people will resist unsolicited advice and instruction, they will follow the behaviors of others—especially when there appear to be good and reinforcing outcomes from these behaviors (or beliefs)." Translation: You can learn a lot from your friend's past behavior.
02. She has the same values.
Do your life philosophies match up? If you see the world the same way, then it's more likely that this person can offer relevant advice. Seek counsel from someone who sees things eye-to-eye, whether that be spiritually, morally, or emotionally. "Good advice is true," writes Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. And if the advice rings true to your core beliefs, this friend is probably a secure and solid source.
03. She asks you questions.
This first would require your friend to listen—intently. A friend who completely agrees with everything you are saying might not want to ruffle your feathers or fears making you upset—but if you make it clear you want her honest opinion, she should spill. Your friend should offer challenging or thought-provoking questions—ones that, you guessed it, aren't sugar-coated. Sometimes a friend is the most helpful when she tells you about options you might not have thought about already.
04. She doesn't tell you what to do.
Your friend should offer advice based on her opinion. She knows that by telling you her thoughts, you have the choice to do (or not do) what she suggests. Such is the joy of advice: You can choose to take it or leave it. If your friend gets upset with you for questioning or even (gasp!) choosing to go against her input, this should be a red flag. As Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D., explains:
"Let go of the outcome. Reassure your friend that you’ll be there for her no matter what she decides. If she makes a bad decision, let it go. Trying to rescue her would just be offering unsolicited advice and will likely do your relationship more harm than good."
05. She trusts you—because ultimately you must trust yourself.
It's up to you to make the final call and accept the outcomes of your decision. Own your power—you are your best judge! Your friend should know and encourage you in this. We often ask for advice from others because it takes some of the pressure off of ourselves. But playing the martyr or victim card will only stunt your personal growth. Regardless of how close you are with this friend, you are two different people. And that's a good thing.
So reach out to friends, but always remember that you are your best judge. Believe you can make the right call for yourself. And if not, wait. Trust that you will know when to make your move.