Giving unsolicited advice isn’t as helpful as you may think it is. The other person may become offended, irritated, or frustrated with you and your well-meant tips. These feelings are normal, as it seems that most people don’t like guidance unless they have asked for it.
People like unsolicited advice even less when they feel they are experienced at what they are doing. You might think your tips are useful, but the other person may feel that you’re implying they don’t know how to do it. This can lead to resentment and anger, and they may not like to have you around when they are doing it in the future.
While you may think that giving unsolicited tips to certain people is fine, it may not be. Some people keep their irritation to themselves, while others will openly tell you to mind your business. Either way, it could make for some awkward situations or silences.
Even those you feel comfortable being honest with won’t appreciate your unsolicited guidance if you don’t offer it in the right setting. Considering time and place is super important if you feel like you have no choice but to meddle. Those who don’t like unsolicited guidance aren’t wrong, either, as there are many reasons to dislike this situation.
Why People Don’t Like Advice They Didn’t Ask For
Even if your suggestion is given with the best intentions, the other person may not see it that way. People often get upset, irritated, or even angry when you meddle without being asked. They won’t see that you truly care and simply want to help, and there are a few reasons they may feel this way.
Your friend or family member might vent to you about something, but still not want advice. Everyone needs to get their frustrations out sometimes, and they need a listening ear to do that. It is important to remember that venting isn’t the same as asking for advice, however.
Even in a situation where someone is venting, it is important to keep your suggestions or ideas to yourself. Show sympathy or empathy, instead, and refrain from giving your input. If they decide they want your thoughts, remind yourself that they will ask.
They Feel Like You Are One-Upping Them
While you know that you aren’t trying to imply you are better than them, they may take it that way. When you tell someone how to do something, it seems like a suggestion that you are more capable.
They May Take It as Criticism
No one likes being criticized, and when you tell them what to do it can seem a little critical. Let them work through things in their way, without offering your input unless they ask. This will let them know that you aren’t criticizing what they are doing, and it will give them the confidence to come to you if they need advice.
They Feel You Are Trying to Overpower Them
When you offer unsolicited suggestions, people might think you are trying to have power over them. If they do what you suggested even once, it can cause them to feel like you aren’t equal anymore. They will feel like they have to give in to you and do whatever you say.
Even if you didn’t intend for this to happen, it is an unspoken issue that often happens. It begins a cycle of you telling them what to do and them complying. Then, each time it happens, the problem only becomes larger.
They Think You Don’t Trust Them
If you tell someone what to do rather than let them decide on their own, it can hint at distrust. They might feel like you don’t trust them to do well or succeed. Remind yourself that they are capable of figuring things out and that they will do fine without your input.
They Think You Have a Personal Agenda
Sometimes when you offer unsolicited suggestions, the other person may think you have something to gain from it. Everyone has different priorities and goals, so they may think that you only have yours in mind.
Oftentimes, they won’t realize you are trying to help them. Instead, they’ll think that you are telling them to do what will benefit you. This is why people often do the opposite of what was suggested to them when they hadn’t asked for help.
If someone listens to everything suggest, they will feel like they have lost control of the situation. They may feel like you are taking away their power to decide, and with that taking their freedom. Even if they don’t realize it, they cherish the freedom to decide and come up with solutions on their own.
Children are especially prone to this, but adults are just as culpable. From kids, spouses, and parents to bosses and co-workers, everyone wants to have freedom in this area.
With children, however, this situation becomes more serious. While they recognize that you are in charge, they will want control whenever possible. They tend to do the opposite of what their parent suggested, simply because they want to decide alone.
People tend to resist when they feel their control is being taken away. It directly leads to doing the opposite of what you suggest, even if they originally didn’t want to. This is their way of keeping their freedom.
Another reason they may feel their freedom is at risk is that it gives you the upper hand. They may feel like in the future, you will automatically assume it will be done your way, instead of letting them figure things out.
What You Can Do Instead
Sometimes, it is hard to keep your thoughts to yourself. We have all been in that position. When this happens to you, there are a few things that you can do instead of giving tips that you weren’t asked for.
Word It So That You Aren’t Telling Them What to Do
Instead of telling someone what you think they should or shouldn’t do, re-word it. Give the information that pertains to the situation, instead, and leave it at that. Then, you can let them decide on their own, using the information that you gave them.
When you do it this way, they won’t see that you are offering advice. They can think the situation through alone, using the information that you gave them. If there is no information for you to give, then it is probably best that you don’t give your input at all, however.
You may notice that if you gave someone a suggestion instead of just information, they don’t consider your tip. This is because they will feel pushed toward 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 all the difference.
Wait for Them to Ask
If you aren’t guilty of offering unsolicited advice, people are more likely to ask for it. When you offer it up without being asked, no one will appreciate what you have to say. If you wait for them to ask, they will be 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 look for someone to ask. By keeping your thoughts to yourself, they may just come to you with their problem and allow you to help with a solution.
When Giving Advice Without Being Asked is Acceptable
All of this information shouldn’t sway you from speaking up when the time is right, however. There are certain instances when you should speak up, no matter what.
One instance is if someone might be putting themselves in danger. If you are aware that there is danger in a situation and you see someone heading toward it, tell them. They will be grateful, and they may not even consider it unsolicited guidance.
Letting someone do something that might be harmful is never recommended. Even if that person may become angry or upset by your words, you have to speak up. Chances are, however, that they will be grateful, as mentioned before.
Think of the times you have been given advice you didn’t ask for. You probably didn’t enjoy it too much, and you may have felt frustrated by it. Understanding the feeling will help you refrain from advising if you haven’t been asked.
While you may do it with good intentions, other people often see it differently. Avoid offending people by 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 find yourself wanting 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 allow them to figure it out until then.