I remember years ago hearing a comedian talking about this topic. The one thing I took away from it was ‘A piece of advice is like an @$$hole; everyone has one but that doesn’t mean we want to see or hear yours.’ I have carried this gem with me for years now and always think about it as I proffer my ‘advice’ to others. I say think about it because it rarely actually stops me opening my mouth and spouting something to some unsuspecting soul. I thought I was pretty good though at not giving too much advice (well not as much as I secretly wanted to give) and trying to get the other person to follow what felt right for them but now that I have teenagers in the house I can see that may not be the case. There is nothing like a surly teenager to put you in your place and show you that your advice is meaningless to them!
For most of us when we hear that someone else is having a bad time of things we often want to help, maybe even rescue them. The most common and easiest way seems to be giving our advice, regardless of whether or not it has been asked for. We often think we have the answer to others problems and so want to share our knowledge. In my experience so far though, this isn’t the case. Sometimes themselves (our teenagers) actually get a bit peeved off if I do have the correct information to help them move forward, like they want to have a unsolvable problem. Sound familiar? Do they want the challenge of figuring it out for themselves or do they just enjoy moaning? From the lack of action I sometimes see I’m thinking it is the latter, with them at least. With others I would say that the majority of times I have offered unsolicited advice (which I think is the kind of advice most of us give) I can see that it was like ‘water off a duck’s back’. Their eyes kind of glaze over and the rhythmic head nodding begins as they block me out without actually telling me to ‘P!$$ off’.
I realize too that I am often one of the worst offenders of that glazed look and heading nodding. Though I do hear what people say I often won’t accept the validity of their advice until much later, sometimes not until someone else has told me a similar piece of advice. Sometimes not until my world is in collapse! They say we need to be exposed to things multiple times before we accept it so maybe I can use that as my excuse for now. I guess though we all like to think we have things sorted and if we don’t have our issues sorted now, that we can sort them if we really wanted to. I often wonder too why I share things that are going bad when I there is a part of me which doesn’t want any advice on solving it. What is the need in me to let others know the bad rather than all the good in my life? Is it a form of bonding? A form of self trimming tall poppy syndrome? I’m not sure but I do remember a friend telling me that in some cultures when someone asks how you are, you are expected to tell them something that is going wrong. The idea being that this way you make the other person feel good about their lives as sharing loads of good news is seen as boastful. So maybe it is an inbuilt survival tool.
Maybe there is a happy medium somewhere in giving advice; somewhere in the midst of limiting what we share which we don’t want advice on and asking others if they want help, advice or our opinion before we actually give it. I’m certainly still looking for it. Until I do find it I think I will continue spouting my ‘advice’ on here, oblivious to how it is received, so at least you have the option to close the tab rather than feigning interest 🙂
One thought on “Advice”
Something in us wants to fix others!. I have been learning and continue to learn to listen and ask questions which may help the other person think in different ways. Or not.
Questions rather than statements.