Archive | May 17, 2014

Unsolicited Advice is Always Self-Serving

Feeling Put Upon

Feeling Put Upon

Why Does Advice Sometimes Backfire?

I try to spend a little time during the week reading in my favorite magazines or news stories that peak my interest. This week, I found one that hits home as it’s close to something I posted on FB a few weeks ago concerning how we sometimes make assumptions about other people’s lives.

Giving unsolicited advice is what causes problems. Advice is often preceded by a judgment or an evaluation—which is based on our interpretation of a person or situation. Although you may sincerely intend to help or assist someone, giving unsolicited advice sends a variety of underlying messages which are all based on assumptions, and which are almost always perceived as negative to the person receiving the unwanted advice. As a result, advice often comes across as judgmental, authoritative, or self-serving.

When we give unsolicited advice, the judgmental assumption is, “You can’t figure this out on your own,” or “I don’t trust you to figure it out.”
The authoritative assumption is, “I know better than you,” or “I know and you don’t, so I have to tell you.”
The self-serving assumption is, “I need to give you the benefit of my advice to validate or to prove to myself how smart I am.” or worse “I need to tell you what to do, so I can be the hero that saved you from yourself.”

As a result, your judgement manifests through your advice and is often taken as a slight or insult, causing hurt feelings within the one you’re trying to help.”

If you want to help someone you care about, simply tell them that you’re thinking of them, you’re sending thoughts and prayers; and ask if there’s anything you can do, for them to please let you know. But don’t make assumptions about what they need or want. Continue reading