First of all – yes, this post is somewhat hypocritical. However, if you are reading this, on some level you are interested in this advice, so it’s not truly unsolicited.
Here’s my unsolicited advice about giving unsolicited advice – don’t give it. We are all tempted to give this…but why? Oftentimes it comes out of a genuine place of concern and compassion for others. Other times, not so much. In some cases, we are trying to show others that we know more than they do. That we know what is best…therefore they don’t. When we do this, we are usually trying to fulfill needs for power and esteem.
Unfortunately, the recipients of our unsolicited advice often don’t take to it all that well. If it is raising us up to provide such pearls of wisdom, it is putting them down a notch. We have more power/knowledge…therefore they have less. As the old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Think of when you have been the recipient of unsolicited advice. How did it make you feel? Did you appreciate it? Have you ever found yourself resenting someone who keeps giving you unsolicited advice? Here’s the kicker – have you ever not taken some sound advice just because you didn’t want it in the first place?
If by providing unsolicited advice, you are hurting your relationship with another person, you are killing the golden goose. Our happiness in life is very much dependent upon our relationships with others. To the extent that we are in good relationships with other people, we tend to feel happy. When we are in conflict or feeling disconnected, we tend to feel unhappy, angry, and/or distressed. Our unsolicited advice, particularly when it is frequently given, often damages relationships. Since positive relationships are key to our happiness, it is in our best interest to refrain from providing unsolicited advice.
What if you really have some great advice to give a someone? One thing you can do is to ask your friend/co-worker/family member if it is okay to throw in your 2 cents. Perhaps more importantly, if you provide advice very sparingly, it will be more appreciated. By gauging the reaction of the person, you’ll know whether you are on track or not. If you value your relationships with others over being “right,” you…and others…will benefit.