Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Unsolicited Advice

Unsolicited Advice

 

I would like to have a discussion about unsolicited advice, both the giving and, particularly, the receiving of it.

 

I do not like receiving unsolicited advice and I TRY to make it a point NOT to give it.  In some cases, I am even hesitant to give asked for advice. because it is often so unwelcome.

 

One must advise one's children while they are young. But I would prefer advice between adults to come when requested and to not come at other times, when unrequested and particularly when unwanted, inappropriate, and hurtful.

 

One of my family members often gives unsolicited advice.  I love and respect him and I respect his expertise and opinion WHEN I WANT help.  However, when I tell him about a problem I am having, and what I want is sympathy, understanding, hugs, he often gives me unsolicited advice instead.  I am being twice frustrated, once by not getting what I need and want and again by getting something unwelcome.

 

I think he offers unwelcome advice because:

1.     He loves me

2.     He cares about me.

3.     He wants to HELP

 

However, instead of feeling grateful, I feel

1.     Angry and defensive.

2.     Offended and belittled

a.     I am offended because

                                               i.     I feel as if he is assuming

1.     that he knows more than I do

a.     He DOES know more than I do on certain topics, but he often offers advice on topics where I know as much or more as he does.

2.     that I am too stupid to figure things out and work them out on my own

                                              ii.     I feel as if I am being treated like a young, wayward child

 

I know that in AA, Al-anon and other twelve-step programs, we are advised NOT to give unsolicited advice.  They say, and I quote, "Unsolicited advice can be seen as a passive-aggressive, condescending way of telling you that they think you're stupid or inferior."  And I have to say, that is exactly how it makes me feel!

 

How can I respond to it in a way that values and respects my loved one and at the same time, preserves my self-respect, dignity and intellectual capacity? A person could always choose to ask, before giving unsolicited advice, if it were wanted.

 

There are some exceptions to this rule—sometimes—RARELY—a friend must speak up and be honest in order to help a friend.  Sometimes, even interventions are needed.  But not multiple times in a single day.

9 comments:

henniemavis said...

You know how my sister resolves this same exact issue? You touched upon it when you said, "... when I tell him about a problem I am having & what I want is sympathy, understanding, hugs, he often gives me unsolicited advice."

If someone is inclined to give advice & not the kind of comfort you are looking for, perhaps you should be telling your problem to someone else... not the person inclined to give advice? That's my sister's solution. She has different people she chooses to tell different kinds of problems. When she wants sympathy, she tells a sympathizer. When she wants advice, she tells an advisor.

Was my response OK? Or was that unwanted advice? :-)

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

It's excellent advice. However, my circle of friends has shrunk! I have very few friends any more. That is, friends I see in the flash and have actual conversations with. I don't have much choice. But it is good advice.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

My problem stems in part from the loss friends due to my move to Detroit and my lack of making new friends here. I think I used to do just that.

bluerose said...

Men! I guess that's just how they are, at least according to the book "Men are from Mars...". When a woman tells them a problem, they feel it's their duty to solve it.

I know what you mean about not having others to talk to. After getting involved in this relationship and moving, it seems I've isolated myself, as well. Sometimes I think I've just stopped talking.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

too bad we're all so busy that it is hard to make new friends or talk to the old ones even!!!

bluerose said...

I'm so sorry. I'm going to try to make more time.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I wasn't blaming YOU! NO! I'm busy too, we all are. But it's crazy to be so busy you can't have friends!1

bluerose said...

Oh, I didn't think you were blaming me - I'm just feeling guilty, because I've been so out of touch lately. I really am going to try to make more time. I miss our chats :]

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I think talking really helps me feel connected and sort things out.