Giving unsolicited advice is not as helpful as you might think. The other person may be offended, irritated, or frustrated with you and your well-meaning advice. These feelings are normal, as most people seem to dislike guidance unless they have asked for it.
People like unsolicited advice even less when they feel they have experience in what they are doing. You may think your advice is helpful, but the other person may feel like you are implying that you don’t know how to do it. This can lead to resentment and anger, and they may not like having you around when they do in the future.
While you may think it’s okay to give unsolicited advice to certain people, it may not be. Some people keep their irritation to themselves, while others will openly tell you to go about your business. Either way, it could lead to awkward situations or silences.
Even those with whom you are comfortable being honest will not appreciate your unsolicited guidance if you don’t offer it in the right environment. Keeping time and place in mind is very important if you feel like you have no choice but to meddle. Those who don’t like unsolicited guidance are also not wrong, as there are many reasons why they don’t like this situation.
Why Don’t People Like Advice They Didn’t Ask For
Even if your suggestion is given with the best of intentions, the other person may not see it that way. People often get angry, irritated, or even angry when you interfere without being asked. They won’t see that you really care and simply want to help, and there are a few reasons why they may feel that way.
Your friend or family member may be venting to you about something, but they still don’t want advice. Everyone needs to take out their frustrations sometimes, and they need a listening ear to do so. However, it is important to remember that venting is not the same as asking for advice.
Even in a situation where someone is venting, it’s important to keep their suggestions or ideas to yourself. Instead, show sympathy or empathy and avoid giving your opinion. If they decide they want your thoughts, remember that they will ask for it.
They feel like you’re getting over them
While you know that you are not trying to imply that you are better than them, they can take it that way. When you tell someone how to do something, it seems like a suggestion that you are more capable.
They can take it as a criticism
Nobody likes to be criticized, and when you tell them what to do, they can seem a bit judgmental. Let them work on things in their own way, without offering their opinion unless they ask. This will let them know that you are not criticizing what they are doing and will give them the confidence to come to you if they need advice.
They feel like you’re trying to dominate them
When you offer unsolicited suggestions, people may think that you are trying to have power over them. If they do what you suggest even once, it can make them feel like you are no longer the same. They will feel like they have to give in to you and do what you say.
Even if you didn’t intend for this to happen, it is an unspoken problem that happens often. A cycle begins where you tell them what to do and they comply. So every time it happens, the problem only gets worse.
They think you don’t trust them
If you tell someone what to do instead of letting them decide for themselves, it can hint at mistrust. They may feel that you don’t trust them to do well or be successful. Remember that they are able to figure things out and that they will be fine without your involvement.
They think you have a personal agenda
Sometimes when you offer unsolicited suggestions, the other person may think they have something to gain from them. Everyone has different priorities and goals, so they may think that you only have yours in mind.
Often times, they will not realize that you are trying to help them. Instead, they will think you are telling them to do what will benefit them. This is why people often do the opposite of what was suggested to them when they had not asked for help.
If someone listens to everything you suggest, they will feel like they have lost control of the situation. They may feel that you are taking away their decision-making power and, with it, their freedom. Even if they don’t realize it, they appreciate the freedom to decide and find solutions for themselves.
Children are especially prone to this, but adults are just as guilty. Of the kids, husbands, and from parents to bosses and co-workers, everyone wants to have freedom in this area.
With childrenhowever, this situation is getting worse. While they recognize that you are in charge, they will want control whenever possible. They tend to do the opposite of what their parents suggested, simply because they want to decide for themselves.
People tend to resist when they feel control is being taken away from them. It leads directly to doing the opposite of what you suggest, even if they originally didn’t want to. This is your way of keeping your freedom.
Another reason they may feel like their freedom is at risk is that it gives you the upper hand. They may feel that, in the future, you will automatically assume that it will be done their way, rather than letting them work out.
What can you do instead
Sometimes it’s hard to keep your thoughts to yourself. We have all been in that position. When this happens to you, there are some things you can do instead of giving unsolicited advice.
Say it so you’re not telling them what to do
Instead of telling someone what you think they should or should not do, modify it. Instead, give the information that corresponds to the situation and leave it at that. Then you can let them decide for themselves, using the information you gave them.
When you do it this way, they won’t see that you’re offering advice. They can analyze the situation on their own, using the information you provided. However, if there is no information for you to provide, it is probably best if you do not give your opinion at all.
You may notice that if you gave someone a suggestion instead of just information, they will not consider your tip. This is because they will be pushed into that decision and their instinct will be to do the opposite of what you suggested. People want to make their own decisions, but changing your wording could make a difference.
Wait for them to ask
If you are not guilty of offering unsolicited advice, people are more likely to ask for it. When you offer it without being asked, no one will appreciate what you have to say. If you wait for them to ask, they are more likely to consider what you say.
Remember that people want the freedom to figure things out for themselves. When they are ready for suggestions, they will find someone to ask. If you keep your thoughts to yourself, they may simply come to you with your problem and allow you to help you with a solution.
When it is acceptable to give advice without being asked
However, all this information should not stop you from speaking up when the time is right. There are certain cases where you must speak up, no matter what.
An example is if someone is putting themselves in danger. If you realize there is danger in a situation and you see someone heading your way, tell them. They will be grateful and may not even consider it an unsolicited guide.
It is never recommended to let someone do something that could be harmful. Even if that person gets angry or upset with your words, you have to speak up. However, they are likely to be grateful, as mentioned above.
Think of the times you’ve been given advice that you didn’t ask for. You probably didn’t enjoy it too much and you may have been frustrated by it. Understanding the feeling will help you to refrain from counseling if it has not been asked.
While you can do it with good intentions, other people often see it differently. Avoid offending people waiting for them to come to you for a suggestion. If they need help, they will be more open to suggestions if you wait for them to ask.
If you ever want to give advice when you haven’t been asked, remember why you shouldn’t. Trust that they will come to you if they decide they need help and let them find out until then.