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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your words. I have an unfortunate habit of giving unsolicited advice, and it creates a lot of wreckage. I hope to hold on to what you wrote and remind myself of it whenever the compulsion to offer such advice starts to possess me. Your words feel like a godsend to me today; they are exactly what I needed to read.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thank you for your kind words!!! :-D


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