But I didn’t ask for your advice!

I don't want your advice, son

There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as adviceJoseph Addison

Now that depends. Is the advice asked for? Do we hate it when someone says ‘if you want my advice….’? There are certain situations when everyone wants to give their advice such as having a baby, child rearing, dieting, or, god forbid, if someone gets cancer. Eat lemons, see that guru, eliminate dairy, meditate!

Sometimes we may think we are asking for advice but really we just want a sounding board. No matter what the other person comes up with, it may just be the vessel for helping us examine our own real beliefs. We may even realise that we want the opposite of what is being suggested. But at least we have our answers by resisting the adviser’s comments and stating our ideas out loud.

When do we go looking for advice? Are we open to it really? Do we have any intention of being swayed or are we too rigid to accept anything outside our current belief system? I like to think I am wildly open to any new idea or suggestion but if I am present and have time to contemplate while the other person is talking, I catch myself thinking. It might be ‘No, but’ and then have dialogue with myself (great multitasking while I am listening) and decide that I might tell them politely but firmly that it’s not for me, or I’ve tried that. Sometimes I might just agree and then go do the opposite! Some cultures are excellent at this; in fact it’s the only polite way to proceed.

Do you have these conversations with yourself, even while you listen to others? If I can be fully aware like this, I far prefer it as I come out with a more measured response and not a reactive one. It can also advance the conversation as you work out how they might respond to the first response you are formulating, so you predict both sides of the conversation and come out ahead.

Anyway, see if you can catch yourself thinking, next time someone is offering advice, and moderate your reply. By responding differently, who knows what different outcomes you might invite into your life and your relationships?

As I was saying...

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8 thoughts on “But I didn’t ask for your advice!

  1. Great article, brought a big smile to my face, therein; big thank you for sharing, sincere regards, Barry

  2. This advice thing made me think…I LOVE giving advice, and have learned to wait until asked!!! I’ve also found that people usually have the solution, but just want to bounce ideas back and forth. Nice post, Emma. Have a good weekend!

  3. I think about this often. It’s a thin line and everyone reacts different. There are people who need advice but won’t accept it. There are people who give advice that probably shouldn’t because they don’t know the other’s situation well enough. There are people who truly want to help, people who are doing it to make themselves feel better, people who think they know what they are doing who don’t. But who are we? Are we what we think we are or are we someone who doesn’t know what they think they know?

    I sometimes struggle not to give advice with some people because I so deeply feel like they need it. They have goals and they are going about it in a way that I feel will never ever get them where they want to be. But if I give them advice, it may upset them. Sometimes I’ll try to drop a line and say something like “I see what you are trying to do and I think I can maybe help, so if you are interesting in some of my ideas let me know.” Some are VERY open to advice and beg for it, while others will say “Thanks but no thanks.”

    Then there is the last one that for me is the toughest. When it comes to the people I REALLY care about, the ones closest to me. Especially when they have extreme physical issues that could bring them to an early grave. Am I better off being polite and not saying anything or reaching out and trying to help them change? What I’ve recently come to is I think it’s worth the risk that I may upset them. I’d rather upset the one I love and possibly give them a shot at living a longer happier life by my side than not say anything and have them have really bad health problems and possibly leave me sooner.

    Tough tough stuff. I think each case of “advice” needs to be approached differently. Using your best judging. As for the particular person getting advice, I think you said it well. Best to listen and if you don’t like it just be polite and move on.

    Sorry for such a long response. 🙂

  4. This was such a good post. Makes me want to share a story. Now that I have time after my Halmark Month of birthdays behind me! I can now focus on writing for my blog again! 😉
    Once when my daughter was little she was riding under the grocery cart, beneath the basket. (Yeah, I know… WHAT was I thinking?!!!!) Anyway I didn’t see but she was touching the spinning wheels as I was pushing the cart… and you guessed it. Her finger went under the cart! Did I feel like the worst mother of the year? You bet! I realize hind sight is 20/20 in most aspects of our life. But I still wonder how stupid could I have been? Though now I have noticed that a lot of moms resort to allowing their kids to ride under the basket. More than you would think. It is crazy! What are we thinking? Well, you better bet that I share my story with them. It is amazing how some have told me to shove it. I kept my story short and simple, just sharing what had happened. Most were grateful and made their kids get right up. Some told me to mind my own business.
    It was funny, I shared my story on Mamapedia and on line magazine for parents and the response about handing out my unsolicited advice was split.
    My point in sharing this story is that we may think our advice is pertinent. We may think we are delivering it without judgment. But we can’t always control how someone receives it. Some people will always feel “judged” no matter how we say it. I mean even if we throw ourselves under the bus saying we did it once too…
    And in the same sense, if we hand out advice we need to be able to receive it as well. This was a great post and I bet you will get a lot of comments because this subject just resonates with so many!

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