Saturday, 19 November 2011


Hatter, Mad by foundimagination
It's so hard (for me) to not give advice.

Maybe it's the same for everyone, but for me it's something I'm working on. Not giving advice.

Ironic, perhaps, given the name of my blog, but I'm talking about the un-asked for kind of advice.

I don't mean when people directly say to me, Victoria? What do you think I should do? Because I do get that, and I like trying to help or give my perspective, and certainly with this blog, my hope is that by sharing my story, or my advice, someone's day, week, month will get a little better, or a little easier.

What I mean is when my friends are talking to me. Or when a co-worker or family member is telling me about something and I want to tell them what I think/know/believe.

I had a friend recently talk to me about a decision she and her husband were considering. I listened, and then I went home and did some research. I researched and talked to some experts and found out that option X was the best choice in their situation. And when I saw the friend again, she was happy to let me know that she and her husband had decided to go with option Y.

And that was the moment I realized, she hadn't been asking me for advice. She hadn't even been asking for my opinion. She just wanted to talk about what they were trying to figure out.

And all she needed me to be was a sounding board; a listener.

It's hard sometimes though, when you're listening to someone and you feel like you know something that might help. Or that you feel like what they're doing might be made easier if they tried it this way or that way.

And it's hard when a friend's going through something really hard and you're on the outside looking in and it feels like you can see it more clearly than they can. It's hard in those moments not to tell them what to do.

But I'm trying to remember that it's not my place to tell them that...unless they ask.

Unless people say "give me advice", "what do you think I should do?", etc.? They're not asking for my advice. They just want someone to listen.

So I'm making the effort to do that.

To listen and not give advice, unless it's asked for.

It's hard though, and it sometimes makes me feel kind of useless.


Just Sayin... said...

Being a soundboard say a lot about you. :)

You could always just ask them. "can I give you my input, just food for thought?"

Some friends will simply say No, others might welcome it.

Don't be offended by her not asking you for advice. But it is good to know where the line is, and in the same breath, there is nothing wrong with the research you did to help your friend.


Victoria said...

Yeah, fair enough :)

Happydog said...

Yep...I'm the same. Totally a fixer and troubleshooter. Love finding solutions to problems. Great as a job description--harder in friendships or relationships. Like what the other commenter said, I've also learned to ask if they want input--though sometimes people say yes just to be polite and then get defensive and argumentative if they don't agree.....or is that just me? Also have used 'if it was me' preamble to try to keep it to what the therapist call "I" statements. Sigh...see what I've done...gone and started giving advice!

Victoria said...

Your last sentence there made me giggle HD! :D

e said...

V- I'm exactly the same way. Personally, I LOVE getting advice (as long as it's given in a gentle, non-judgmental, loving way). I think that you are a loving, giving person, so you always just want to help out your friend, who you care about. But you're right, not everyone wants advice all the time. I think the best way to approach this is just to distance yourself from the situation...maybe let go of some of the emotional attachment (That's not the best term for it but I can't think of anything better) you have to the situation and know that everyone makes mistakes and it's OK not to "prevent a mistake" , it's most important to be supportive and loving no matter what. But here I am, off giving you advice.
I loved your advice BTW ;)


Jonathan said...

It's one of those "growing up" things, isn't it - when you start to realise two things;

a) some people are only talking to you because they want something

b) some people are only talking to you because they want to tell somebody (not to receive any feedback)

I don't mind being the target of (b) at all, but (a) makes me really mad... and I know a few people that do it.

Victoria said...

Aww, thanks e ;)

I totally know what you mean Jonathan...