"For each of us there is some mission in life if we but find it. All have some definite thing to do, something for which they have been created; and only the doing of this thing will justify their existence here on earth. If we come into the world and occupy space and time without giving back for this privilege, we have not justified ourselves, and our lives in the end are barren." ~ Hay

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Unsolicited Advice….Somebody Stop Me!

Life is full of lessons, tests and challenges.  Some of these we sail through with flying colors because they are easy and we tackle them joyfully.  We have all passed quite a few of these lessons and continue to do so as we live each day.   However, there are some life lessons we fail miserably.  In that case, you are doomed to repeat them over and over again until it finally sinks in… or the light bulb in your head goes off and you say, “I get it!”  This is how we garnish wisdom and understanding in life…..by trial and error.  Experience comes from making lots and lots of mistakes.  Wisdom comes from learning from these mistakes.  So far, I have lots of experience…..(Who said that?...lol.)
I asked a friend for advice last week regarding a website.  After he answered my question, for some strange reason, I felt the need to give him, “unsolicited advice,” or something out of left field he didn’t see coming.  Why did I do that?  It had nothing to do with what I asked him.  He didn’t ask me for my opinion.  Why did I feel the need to say something to him that was completely none of my business?  Did I hurt him?  I don’t know.  It definitely wasn’t my intention.  So why did I do it?
I am very comfortable speaking my mind, especially if I think it can help someone.  Most of the time, when people give unsolicited advice, they mean well.  They think they can help in some way.  It’s a nurturing instinct or the need to take care of someone or a situation.  The desired consequence is usually meant to be positive.  However, even if the intent is to help, the receiver of the advice may not perceive it that way, and the advice may end up hurting someone’s feelings.  I can give a recent example.  A woman I know just lost her husband of almost sixty years.  She’s been in her home “grieving” with the blinds and shades down.  Another neighbor called her and asked if she was okay because she noticed everything was closed so tight.  That was a very nice thing to do, show concern for a neighbor.  However, the woman kept going saying that she should raise her blinds because it looks as if she is “depressed,” which upset the grieving woman.  Again, I’m sure the advice was well-meaning, but it wasn’t taken that way.   Of course, there is always the example of the mother-in-law that tells her daughter-in-law to “put a sweater on that baby.”  Advice that is not asked for, or the person is not expecting advice from you, is not okay….even if you mean well. 
**I had to write it 100 times on a whiteboard so it would sink in….”I will not give unsolicited advice.”

Okay....I had a little help!
According to John Gray, who writes the Mars/Venus books, men and women give and receive advice differently.   Women love to give advice to other women, for that is what they seek.    Women love to talk and solve their problems together.  Men on the other hand, try to solve their problems on their own and will not seek out advice unless they specifically ask for it.  A good rule of thumb for giving advice is to only give advice to those who ask for it.  Then it is okay.  How do you stop from giving unsolicited advice? 
Well….you can try putting tape over your mouth but that won’t stop your fingers from typing! 
I'll admit....I just wanted to see what it was like to put tape over my sister's mouth...lol

Actually, it is a very hard to stop giving unsolicited advice.  Why?  Because you have to consciously think of not doing so before you speak.  You need to be aware of what you are about to say and think of the consequences before the words actually leave your mouth.  It requires your mind to be very present.  It can be done.  Just hear Mom’s words in your head,  ”Think before you speak.”  Remember that all actions have reactions.  Never underestimate the power  of your words. 

Gray, John, Ph.D., Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Harper Collins Books, New York 1992


Elinor said...

You are totally correct in your assessment of unsolicited advice. Although for the most part it is well meaning, some would consider it as criticism, not advice. Enjoy the day with your family and friends, Christine.

Ginger said...

It is so hard not too give advice because we always seem to think that our viewpoint is the correct one, but thanks for the remonder that we need to mind our own business unless asked. And even then, proceed with caution.

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