You’re enjoying an afternoon lunch with a family member or friend and decide to share the details of a problem at work. Instantly your friend is attentive, their eyes fully engaged, and they lean forward. They have morphed into a cheetah perched directly across from you, ready to pounce at any moment. Their desire to take action with advice will happen the minute they take a breath.
People, people, people… just because someone invites you to listen does NOT entitle you to distribute advice! Please don’t swerve into the passing lane; no one wants your thoughts or recommendations. Most of the time, those confiding in you do so because they want to be heard. The need to be supported and understood is what they hope to gain by opening up to you.
I Urge You to Abort!
If you’re asked, please keep your mouth closed. When feedback is requested, you’ll know by hearing, “I want your thoughts on this,”“What do think?”,“I need your insight,” or “What should I do?” Even then, be very careful what you choose to say. Think about replying, “Are you certain you want to hear my thoughts?”
Why Does it Happen?
Most people feel the urge to give unsolicited advice due to the desire for power, insecurities, and the need to appear knowledgeable.
An article by reachingself.com shared, “An internet poll asked people if they liked receiving unsolicited advice. The answers were 1) no, 2) yes, and 3) only if the right person gave it. Of 847 people, 56% said no, 6% said yes, and 38% said only if the right person gave it. A similar poll shows similar results.”
Remember that what is conveyed can be perceived as an invasion of personal space and boundaries. All of which are unappreciated.
They Ask For Your Advice
I have asked for your opinion, now what? Think, think very carefully. Pause before parting the lips and:
~Ask questions, ask many questions! Can you get a clear picture of the situation? It’s essential to remember that you are hearing one side of the story; the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Within every problem, each party contributes and is responsible for what occurred and the outcome.
~Validate what they’ve shared, for example, “I hear that you feel…..is that right?” Let them hear what you’ve understood to be true. We don’t always express ourselves effectively when emotions are running high.
~If you aren’t familiar with the subject, don’t pretend you are! Pretending to be knowledgeable and giving false information can be harmful.
~ This is not a time for judgment or saying, “If I were you” or “You should have”
~Make it very CLEAR that you are only offering your thoughts; you are NOT providing the answer.
Why Oh Why?
So you’ve read everything I have shared and must be convinced you’re trying to avoid withholding unsolicited advice. Okay, ask yourself:
~Why do I feel the need to share my thoughts? What am I trying to get out of this?~You do NOT know the entire truth; you weren’t there, so are you really concerned? Is your desire from an honest and genuine desire to help them or your need to control their behavior or feel important?
~Is this situation something they can work out on their own?
~What can you do instead of giving advice?
Lips Won’t Stay Zipped
You’re not swayed to zip the lips and know your mouth will open. UGH! If you need, ask the individual if they are open to hearing your ideas and thoughts. If the response is NO, then it’s NO! Got it?! Now should the answer be in your favor and they nod yes, then tread lightly, and here’s my unsolicited advice:
~Your perspective wasn’t asked for, so watch every step you take.
~This isn’t about changing someone’s viewpoint.
~Speak in kindness, don’t argue, and do not talk condescendingly.
~ Don’t expect your words of wisdom to be adopted and used.
This is what psychologytoday.com says, “Honestly, while people encourage you to change your ways to accommodate their suggestions, what are you privately thinking? Probably: “Mind your own business.” “Why don’t you leave me alone?” You might politely listen, but privately most of us resent being told what to do and how to do it.”
By the way, should you do a little research, it will become evident that unzipping your lips without being asked does not have a favorable outcome.
24 Hour Challenge
We all are guilty of throwing in our two cents on rare occasions. How often should we give solicited advice? You should be able to find out. I encourage you to go 24hrs, watching your impulse and wanting to give advice. Become aware of how often and why? You will discover how often those lips are eager to be unzipped!
Dalai Lama~ People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on YOUR road doesn’t mean they are lost.