Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Advice, Unsolicited


I recently saw a guy on Twitter moaning about how frustrating it is that no one ever takes his unsolicited advice. I’m pretty sure he was joking but it’s hard to tell because we don’t have the sarcasm font yet. Somebody needs to get on that – open source coders, I’m looking at you.

Nobody likes unsolicited advice. I know I’ve annoyed plenty of people in the past with my own unsolicited advice, and even a couple of times with too much solicited advice. A wiser person than I once said, “Unsolicited advice often comes across as criticism.” That’s true. It also often comes across as ridiculous. My ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has taken to giving me relationship advice, for example. Let that sink in for a minute.

I'll be here when you're ready. ~Photo credit: ColKorn1982


This is ridiculous on more than the obvious level. Of course the obvious level is obvious, so I shouldn’t have to explain it, but as my mother used to say  I saw on a bumper sticker once, “No matter how good he looks, somebody somewhere is sick of his sh*t.” I dated the same dude and I could tell you some things that would curl your hair, if I thought it would do any good, but I’m old enough to know better.

That’s the other thing – I’m old enough to know better. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re significantly younger than the person you’re giving unsolicited advice to, you might just want to shut it.

Believe it or not, I've been in a relationship or two before.

When you’re giving unsolicited advice, it’s all too likely that you lack a full understanding of the problem. The person you’re regaling with your wisdom may be facing challenges of which you’re unaware. He or she (okay, me, we’re still talking about me) may have gone so far as to consult professionals and trust me, that is not you. If it were you’d have a business card or something; check your wallet. No? That’s what I thought.

It’s also possible that the recipient of your sage counsel doesn’t think they have a problem at all. Sometimes people aren’t asking for help; sometimes they’re just talking. Not every remark is an opportunity for you to leap to the rescue. I’m a person, not a dilapidated house. Put down the hammer.

This is especially true of blog comments, where I seem to get the most unsolicited advice. That’s not a surprise, since some people DO NOT have a sense of humor. I got lots of unsolicited advice on my post “9 Reasons I Hate Being Smart,” for example. Here’s some unsolicited advice from a reader who remained anonymous:

There's something to be said for being humble. I appreciate you probably have a higher level of intelligence than the majority of your company but you need to understand you're not alone. Ever heard of Mensa? Find other so-called 'smart' people and talk about stuff that interests you. Try and get some exercise rather than having a smoke or necking a bottle of booze. It’ll help with the sleep and the ongoing inner monologue you seem to have.

I get the whole ‘smarter than most and feeling out of sorts’ thing but you have an immature way of dealing with it. Like I said, go on a walk, meet some people and get some perspective. 

“Gee, you really put me in my place, random person on the Internet! Gosh, my life will never be the same now that you’ve shown me the error of my ways! I’m going to run right out and do all those things you said, and then I’m going to write you a nice calligraphy letter on scented stationery, apologizing for the trouble I put you through with my shameful creativity, and promising never to do it again!” said no blogger ever, I should bloody well hope.

For the record, I told him he was stuck up. There was no response.

26 comments:

  1. haha some excellent points!!!! hope you enjoy the challenge :)

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  2. LOL! I loved this! My aunt used to always preface any unsolicited advice she gave with the phrase, "I am going to give you my unsolicited advice and it is likely worth exactly what you paid for it..."

    It is so true that most people don't have any idea what all the factors are that contribute to your state, therefore are only playing with a partial deck, so to speak. And the older I get, the less inclined I am to share my pearls of wisdom with most people anyway--which saves me a lot of embarrassment later! :D

    Happy "A" Day!
    tm

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    1. Thanks! Happy "A" Day to you too!

      I save my pearls of wisdom for this blog, where they usually only rile up anonymous commenters. Usually. ;)

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  3. Wahahaha ... this post is brilliantly true! I'll remember it the next time I'm advising ... I mean talking to ... my mom (oh no I didn't ... yes, I did). :-)

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    1. Ha ha ha ha ha! I fall into the trap of giving my mother unsolicited advice, too. Of course she hates it, because she's supposed to know better than me, duh!

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  4. Some people may not see their advice as unsolicited. If there's an opening, there was some silent solicitation, a call for help if you will.

    Personally I don't trust most professionals. There's a few people in my life that I would trust advice from, but I usually ask for it.

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    1. Well, sure, asking for it is one thing. I know a couple of people who just go around handing out their advice like candy, whether it was asked for or not. OBVIOUSLY.

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  5. What I think you should do is to tell her in the nicest way possible that you don't appreciate her advice. For example, bake her a cake or send her a nice needlepoint. If she ignores your handcrafted message, well, hiring a quartet or skywriter might be your only option, I'm afraid. The important thing here is to be delicate as you don't wish to offend such an extraordinary young woman who is obviously so wise beyond here years.

    ;)

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  6. My mom's a pro at unsolicited advice and it drives me insane. I get really super defensive when it happens.

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    1. Oh, Moms. My mom does it too. Drives me insane, too.

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  7. Sometimes I think the disapproving look is even worse than the unsoliticied advice. That must be why I do so much of my communicating via phone and email. LOL

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    1. Oh god! Not the disapproving look! I hate those!

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  8. Here's some helpful advice. Don't drink and tweet.

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    1. Ha ha ha yeah that's some advice you can take to the bank.

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  9. Sometimes I have had to say flat out, "I don't want you to solve my problem, I just want you to hear me." That usually works for me. Maybe if others know what we expect they are less likely to try to solve our problem. But I think I would rather have some well-meaning unsolicited advice than to feel completely ignored. If I bemoan my situation out loud, it might be hard for those in hearing range to understand why I even brought it up unless I was looking for some kind of consolation or advice. Maybe?

    Nice to meet you through the A to Z!

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    1. Yeah, I guess that's the logic. I do still get people offering me advice about stuff I haven't even complained about though. That's the worst.

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  10. But you did run out an join the Mensa Club, right? (Pretend that is in sarcastic font!)

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  11. I love giving unsolicited advice. And people usually follow it because I'm the smartest Mother Fukuoka around!

    Maybe you should start listening to random people. We're only trying to help.

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    1. When I need your help I'll ask for it, thanks.

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  12. Interesting about the ex's girlfriend and relationship advice. I've seen that in divorce situations. In fact, it's far too common--the first wife tries to advise the second wife about her husband. I've been on the receiving end a few times and wanted to shout, "Give it up! He's not YOUR husband anymore!" Instead, I politely nodded my head, (then realized later it was pretty good advice!) Sometimes I give unsolicited advice and when I think about it later I realize I was trying to be critical. Sometimes I feel like people need a smack of reality in the face...then I remind myself that it's really not my business.

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    1. Yeah but this is the other way around...I, the ex-girlfriend, is not trying to give her any advice, even though I probably could; she, the new girlfriend, is trying to give me advice about relationships when she doesn't even know me that well, and I'd wager a guess she doesn't know a damn thing about my romantic life, since I'm pretty sure the ex-bf hasn't told her anything about "us" or about my other partners, for that matter.

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  13. Great post Marjorie. Funny and true.

    In my experience the serial culprits almost always begin their sermon with "Well, if you want my advice . . ." I DON'T. THAT'S WHY I DIDN'T ASK FOR IT. In fact, I wasn't even talking to you. I was having a private phone call, whilst sitting on the bus. Have you been listening the whole time? There's a name for that - it's called eaves-dropping and if you want my advice . . . And before you know it, you've fallen in to the same trap of giving unsolicited advice.

    Seriously though, great post. Look forward to checking out more of your stuff.

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    1. LOL You might as well go ahead and give them yours if they're going to give you theirs, right? Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it! :)

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