Why Giving Unsolicited Advice Can Cause Stress & How To Stop Giving Unsolicited Advice
Now passing on good advice is always appreciated but giving advice that is unwanted and unasked-for isn’t. Many people rely on others’ guidance and suggestions to make decisions but regardless of their choice, handing out unsolicited advice can not only be invasive but can be – unknowingly – manipulative as well.
When a friend or an acquaintance comes and offers you an opinion on what you could or should be doing can feel a lot like criticism. Many times, the advice-giver is completely clueless about how you’ll take their advice, and sometimes, the advice-giver may even feel offended when their advice isn’t taken seriously.
These actions can put a lot of stress on you as well the advice-giver. This stress can even cause feelings of resentment on either or both sides.
In this blog, I’ll explain what is unsolicited advice, what kind of stress and feelings can it cause, and how to avoid giving unsolicited advice.
Defining Unsolicited Advice
Unsolicited means “not asked for; given or done voluntarily”. Anything, whether it be affection, opinion, direction, or advice offered uninvited can feel invasive and intrusive.
Many a time, a piece of unsolicited advice can even be seen as passive-aggressive or a means to be manipulative and controlling.
For example; My partner tells me to go on a keto diet when I share with them my concerns about my health. Even if I was only sharing or voicing my concerns, my partner took this as an opportunity to give me advice I didn’t particularly need.
In a romantic relationship, giving unwanted advice continuously can be taken as disrespectful and passive-aggressive behavior. It can also be associated with dominance and control. Sometimes, unasked-for advice can also turn into nagging.
Why Do People Offer Unsolicited Advice?
Offering advice when asked can be very helpful to someone who is struggling to make a decision but offering a piece of unsolicited advice can make someone feel inadequate and unable to make decisions on their own.
There are many reasons why people give advice. Some advice is offered with good intentions while others not so much.
Some common reasons why people offer advice can be:
- Shared experiences
- The need to feel important
- The need for validation
- For altruistic reasons
- To share excitement
- The need to assert control
Some instances such as offering advice out of friendship can be actually seen as a moment to enhance connection and can sometimes be even helpful but in some instances such as the need to assert control, offered advice can often be a sign of control, manipulation, and dominance. In such instances, unsolicited advice is not helpful and can even be categorized as emotional abuse.
Why Can Unsolicited Advice Be Stressful?
When I first came clean about my clinical depression, I had many people flooding my inbox with messages that were probably not needed and certainly not wanted from people who hadn’t talked to me in years.
One thing their one-time messages made me think (for a moment) was that maybe I did something wrong with my recovery.
Unknowingly, these people came in and made me doubt myself and my ability to cope with my condition.
My point here is that unsolicited advice – whether you mean it or not – can come across as criticism and judgment. The person receiving the unasked-for advice may even feel anxious and may self-doubt their ability and result. While you may have a pure motive to help your friend, you may unknowingly come across as overbearing.
Receiving unsolicited advice can not only cause stress but can also make a person feel helpless, undefensive, worthless, and even submissive. You may offer advice to your loved one with a pure heart but they might take it as you not trusting them enough to make their decisions.
How To Stop Giving Unsolicited Advice?
For people who love giving advice, this might be a little difficult to manage but it is always appropriate to offer advice when asked. If you’re prone to offer unsolicited advice, these ways can help you stop:
1. Recognize that not all people need advice: Sometimes people only need a space to grow or vent. If someone is venting out to you, maybe they are looking for a shoulder to lean on and not asking for advice.
2. Read others’ emotions: Developing emotional awareness is the way to go. Learn to read other’s feelings and emotions before offering them advice. Acknowledge the emotions, read the situations, and then move forward.
3. Try listening to your friend: Sometimes, as I said, people need to be heard. For once, try listening to others instead of offering them advice they probably don’t need. Many times, just expressing one’s feelings and voicing thoughts aloud may present them with a solution.
4. Ask them if they need your advice: Instead of outright offering them unsolicited advice, ask them if they need it. It is always better to ask than to intrude. Focus on being supportive rather than being invasive.
If you’re on the receiving end of unsolicited advice…
This, now, depends on what you’re getting advice on and from whom. If you’re not open to receive the advice you can gently use any of the following phrases:
- “I’m not really looking for advice right now but it’d be helpful if you can…”
- “I really just want to vent, can you listen?”
- “I’m not looking for solutions at this moment”
- “I feel helpless when you offer me advice. I know you care and I’ll ask for advice when I need it.”
- “I know you’re trying to help but it’s making me feel…”
It is always better to set boundaries and take steps to let others know you’re not open to advise from them. Unsolicited advice can make a person feel inadequate, helpless, and worthless.
I hope this blog helped you understand why unsolicited advice can cause stress and how to stop giving unsolicited advice in the future.
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Remember, your boundaries matter!
Stay happy, stay safe!