That famous ad campaign, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” worked for one reason. It didn’t try to change people.
Ads that try to stop people from taking drugs, smoking, or abusing alcohol notoriously fail. You can’t scare a smoker with pictures of dirty lungs or a drunk driver with pictures of car crashes. They know the risks. They still don’t stop.
But “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” was brilliant. It gave permission to caring, responsible friends to intervene. Not to convince their friend to go to AA. The goal was simple. Get the car keys from someone who is drunk right now.
If you’ve ever told a friend to eat healthier, get out of a bad relationship, tell off their parent, or quit that job, you are doing that friend a disservice.
Lecturing, giving advice, or worse — giving commands doesn’t change anyone. It might make you feel better, but don’t kid yourself. It doesn’t help anyone else.
If you want to be a good friend, be available. Listen. Don’t tell people what to do.