It sucks and we cringe when we get it, but we are all likely guilty of giving it too. It masquerades as ‘loving support’ or ‘I can help them’ or ‘They don’t know what I know, I can tell them what I know and then they will be better!’ – no matter what the reason, season, or elaborately creative justification you can come up with, it is just: NOT COOL!
I recently found myself on the receiving end of this kind of ‘advice’ and it bothered me quite a bit. I was clear that the person had good intentions, but the judgement that needed to be made about me in order to GIVE that unwanted advice was just not welcomed. I didn’t ask for it, so it felt like an assault rather than the support it was intended to be. Of course, it got me thinking..
First, lets explore why we so NEED to give it, and how we feel we are making the world a better place when we give it. When we see someone and feel that we could really help them be BETTER we start to feel this deep desire to connect with them and show them the way. This need is convincing in it’s ‘Mother Theresa’ motivation. We’re totally, utterly convinced that we are doing a GOOD THING by helping this person out with our advice.
But, It’s really a total crock.
Why? Because in order to think you have the recipe for someone to be BETTER than what they are, you would have to have made a judgement call on them in the first place. You’ve judged based on your own insecurities ( yes, read it and weep) and when you decide to ‘give advice’ to make that person ‘better’ you are simply trying to avoid your own issues and to vaccinate yourself with some fake ‘power’ over someone else to feel better about yourself. It’s a band-aide, a drug, so to speak, that keeps you from addressing the REAL issue – YOU. It sounds harsh, but its the real truth. Why else would you be so hell bent on HELPING someone who didn’t even ask for it? Some of us go so far as to offer this unsolicited, wayward and misguided advice to complete strangers – how could you POSSIBLY even know where that person is at, what their life has been like or what has led them to this moment – this moment that you are judging could be better if you could just fix it? You can’t – in fact you can’t know that about anyone. Giving advice when it’s not requested is more about the giver than it is about the receiver. [tweetthis]Giving advice when it’s not requested is more about the giver than it is about the receiver.[/tweetthis]
And, quite frankly it is meddling and disrespectful.
Still not sure if you’ve been dishing this unpleasant advice out? Here is a simple test that I just made up now…
SCENARIO: A friend on Facebook leaves a comment that is vague, and states some negative feelings but doesn’t ask for help – it’s a statement of a state of mind and it sounds sad and pretty down.
A. Send her a smiley face, or hugs or some other kind of affection to let her know you are there.
B. Leave her a DM and tell her to call you if she wants to talk.
C. Call her ( if you are that close) and just ask if she is ok and if she needs any support.
D. Write an entire paragraph ( or even worse, call and launch into your paragraph) as to why she shouldn’t be so blue, chipper up, chin up, life is only positive if you make it so…blah blah.
If you answered D, you are in trouble and you might be annoying people more than you know. I can help – let me give you some advice on that. HA! You see what I did there? YA, I crack myself up….Anyhoo – back to the issue at hand. If you chose D, you are an advice giver and you do it when people don’t ask for it. YOU are one of those. Now it’s time to cut that sh#t out.
Below are 5 steps to take whenever you get that urge to advice bomb someone – no matter how close you are, or how much you think they need it. Stop, breathe and follow these steps.
5 Steps to Stop Unwanted Advice Giving in it’s Tracks
STEP ONE: Does the person you are wanting to help look distressed? If so, go and give them a hug and ASK if they could use some help. If they say yes, skip to #5
STEP TWO: Has this person actually ASKED you straight up for some advice, coaching, consulting or whatever? If no, then you need to go to step three.
STEP THREE: STOP! Do not approach this person, do not give them any advice. Contain yourself and ask yourself a very revealing question. ‘Why am I so driven to help this person who has not asked for it?’ Ruminate on that for as long as it takes, it might even take a week – I don’t care, ask that question until you can give yourself an answer that has NOTHING to do with anyone else but YOU.
STEP FOUR: Approach your friend, stranger, brother, sister, mother, boyfriend, girlfriend, colleague or whomever and tell them that they are amazing and that you love them to pieces. If it is a stranger, you can leave the words out and just flash them a smile and a wave that embodies the aforementioned words.
STEP FIVE: Your friend, a stranger, brother, sister, mother, boyfriend, girlfriend, colleague or whomever has asked you for help, what do you do? Well, NOW you can help. First though, you must LISTEN. This will be an entirely different blog post with different steps. If you are not sure how to do this, wait until I can give you some advice on that before you practice it on someone else. ( HA, I did it again) THIS is the step however, the ONLY step where you can actually give advice – if it has been asked for, and your friend trusts you to answer, then give it all you’ve got. Listen, come from a place of non judgement ( practice what we learned in earlier steps) and aim to support them in a way that actually supports them and doesn’t just artificially boost your own confidence. That takes some self awareness and listening to be able to master, but keep at it, practice makes perfect as they say.
For those of you who have been the recipients of unsolicited advice – The LAST thing I want to do is give you my advice – but since you’ve read on this far and perhaps may be curious, then I humbly suggest that you pass this little blog ditty on to ‘them, those advisers’ for a looksie. Maybe they’ll get the hint.
Barring that, just nod, smile and ignore the advice you probably didn’t want anyway. Don’t take any of it personally and know that they THINK their intentions are supportive and loving and that they just don’t know any better, yet. Whatever you do, DON’T go and give them unsolicited advice about giving unsolicited advice – that will just put us into a weird recycling wormhole that we won’t be able to come back from and it doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
My closing remark – Just resist it folks. It’s not a positive thing to do when it’s not asked for. It sucks, it doesn’t better the world and it keeps you from learning some good deep lessons about yourself. Be awake and aware of your motivations and keep the advice to yourself unless it is genuinely asked for.
Personal Growth ALWAYS starts from within, not out in the world you think you see out there…
[tweetthis]Personal Growth ALWAYS starts from within, not out in the world you think you see out there…[/tweetthis]