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Thread: Advice

  1. #1

    Default Advice

    A while ago at a conference the person leading it made a statement that I had never heard before that I have found very interesting:


    "When someone tells you about a problem they have or a situation that they're dealing with, you should never give advice to them unless they ask for it."


    They went on to ask "When have you ever wanted someone's advice about a situation and not asked them for it?"


    The main point was that a lot of times when we tell other people our problems, all we really want is someone to listen to us and hear us out. So when someone else tells us about a problem, sometimes we immediately try to fix it without really hearing them out completely. In addition, we may think we know the best answer, but we're not actually in their situation...there may even be things about that they haven't told us.


    I found this really interesting because for me, it was true. Sometimes when I've told people about something, I didn't want their advice...I just wanted to have someone to listen.

    And for me, every time I have wanted someone's advice about a problem, I ask them for it. And of course, if someone asks for your opinion or your advice, them of course you have free reign to give it to them.




    Now, I do think there are some obvious exceptions to this rule....abusive situations, suicidal thoughts, and maybe even things like drug addictions come to mind. Things that are seriously damaging to the person or to others around them are kind of a different situation.



    But, beyond that, I'm curious to hear whether you guys generally agree with the original quoted statement:

    "When someone tells you about a problem they have or a situation that they're dealing with, you should never give advice to them unless they ask for it."


    ...and if you do, whether or not you think "never" is too strong of a word.


    Also, if you do disagree with it, can you give an example of a time when you told someone about a problem and wanted their advice but didn't ask for it? Note that I'm not talking about a situation where you never tell them about the problem in the first place...I mean a time when you bring up the issue.

    Like I said, I can't think of one myself, so I'm curious if anyone has ever had one to help refute this idea.

  2. #2
    EmeraldsAndLime

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    I personally hate advice unless I ask for it, which goes hand-in-hand with the fact I get moody when people tell me things I already know.

    If I'm having a tough time, I just need to vent and have someone who'd listen to me rant on about whatever it is that's got me upset. They don't need to respond, but just sit and listen.

  3. #3
    BabyWolf

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    It depends on the means of giving the advice, I've found. People typically tell you these things because they're needing help or encouragement, or just need a friend to vent to. Often they may be asking you for advice, without outright asking you for advice. And the proper response there is often to give them advice, without outright giving them advice. You don't have to be blunt, direct, or forceful. You don't have to be obvious. But if you're supportive and helpful, the person will probably walk away from it feeling better and thinking, "You know, that's a good idea." Friends help each other. It's what they do.

  4. #4

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    i almost always want advice when i tell someone about a hard time i've been having. even if i don't ask for it specifically, i find it immensely comforting to hear what other people would do in my situation. i don't always trust myself to make a sensible decision without input.

  5. #5

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    I have a few friends in 12 step programs, and one of the hardest things for them, across the board, is watching friends slip into and out of addiction. The problem, I've been told, is that you can't make someone want to change. You can be there to help them when they do, but you can't do it for them, and trying to do it for them often only hurts both you AND them.

    The trick is to know when they're really looking for help, and be there to provide it, and to know when they won't accept help, and to have the discipline to allow them to make that choice too. It's a hard spot to be in.

    -- Thad

  6. #6
    soren456

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    Let me come in at a different angle.

    In RL, I'm a very good listener. This is a burden, considering what people expect me to listen to. But even so, I do try to use this ability to help people out.

    I rarely give advice (though sometimes I'd like to), but if I help people untangle and clarify their options, I think I've given them what they needed. That means that even though I have an opinion, I need to suspend it in order first to sort things out--by listening and asking questions, listening and asking more questions. Things get clearer this way.

    At least, that's my technique.

    What annoys me are the people who waste my time. If you expect me to stop and listen to you and think with you (unpaid), don't you have an obligation to do something in return? Such as actually act . . . . or at least not return and discuss the same thing over and over. I've had a couple friends who wanted to hash the same things over and over, but who never got off their complaining place. I finally just shut them down when they started.

    I know that friends are there for the bloviating and complaining; "I hear you, bro" is often enough. But when you take someone's time and ask him to think on your behalf, you really are asking for a response, aren't you? And you incur an obligation to hear him in return, don't you? If you just needed to get it out, you could have talked to your wall. But if you bring a friend into it, you're inviting his participation.

    So, this is a little off-kilter from your original question. I think my point is that people are willing to help others, that they don't expect to be used only as a sounding board, and that if you talk to someone about a problem it's only fair to listen in return.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by avery View Post
    i almost always want advice when i tell someone about a hard time i've been having. even if i don't ask for it specifically, i find it immensely comforting to hear what other people would do in my situation. i don't always trust myself to make a sensible decision without input.

    I find this very interesting because you say that you often want advice but don't ask for it specifically.

    Can you say why you wouldn't ask for it specifically? Do you feel awkward or embarrassed to do so? Do you feel like you'd be burdening the other person and would only want advice if you feel like they want to give it?

    Those would be the reasons that I could think of.



    Though I also note that you say "specifically" giving advice...meaning that sometimes you might give hints that you want to hear someone's advice.

    If that's the case, then I agree with BabyWolf...sometimes someone can be asking for advice through tone and body language without actually saying it. And that's what makes it sticky sometimes...it can be hard to correctly interpret tone and body language.






    Quote Originally Posted by soren456
    But when you take someone's time and ask him to think on your behalf, you really are asking for a response, aren't you? And you incur an obligation to hear him in return, don't you? If you just needed to get it out, you could have talked to your wall. But if you bring a friend into it, you're inviting his participation.
    I liked a lot of the points you made, soren...especially the one at the end about being willing to listen to someone else if you often tell your problems to other people. However, I have to disagree with the above quote.


    For me, there is a very big difference between telling something to someone else and just saying it to yourself or to wall. If there wasn't, then I would almost never vent to people. And sometimes all I'm looking for is a, as you said, "I hear you, bro"....especially if I've heard them tell me about their own personal similar situations and I know they can relate to what I'm saying.


    But I'll be honest...in a lot of situations I'm going to be a lot more likely to tell someone something if all they say back is "I hear you, bro" than if they immediately start telling me what I should do. That turns me off sometimes.

    Now, if I ask for advice and I don't like what they tell me, then I'm the one at fault, not them. But if I just need to get it off my chest, I'm going to feel a lot better if someone doesn't try to tell me what to do.

    In fact, sometimes out of spite I'm actually more likely to do the opposite of the advice that I give. Of course, this is stubborn, foolish and self-centered, but it's my natural reaction. I think that was the main reason why the person leading this conference I went to told us all of this....because people in general are unlikely to follow advice given when it's not asked for, even when it's very good advice.




    I love these responses though. It's awesome to be able to discuss stuff like this in an active community.




    Ooh, one more thing.



    Quote Originally Posted by Lukie
    I personally hate advice unless I ask for it, which goes hand-in-hand with the fact I get moody when people tell me things I already know.

    If I'm having a tough time, I just need to vent and have someone who'd listen to me rant on about whatever it is that's got me upset. They don't need to respond, but just sit and listen.
    *advises Lukie to adopt a more twangy Australian accent and be more like a cute kangaroo. :p :P :P

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by teddy564339 View Post
    I find this very interesting because you say that you often want advice but don't ask for it specifically.

    Can you say why you wouldn't ask for it specifically? Do you feel awkward or embarrassed to do so? Do you feel like you'd be burdening the other person and would only want advice if you feel like they want to give it?

    Those would be the reasons that I could think of.



    Though I also note that you say "specifically" giving advice...meaning that sometimes you might give hints that you want to hear someone's advice.

    If that's the case, then I agree with BabyWolf...sometimes someone can be asking for advice through tone and body language without actually saying it. And that's what makes it sticky sometimes...it can be hard to correctly interpret tone and body language.
    i think you're reading too much into what i'm saying. if i want advice i have no qualms about asking for it. and if i happen to be unburdening myself on some sympathetic friend, i'm usually happy to hear any advice they might offer me.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by avery View Post
    i think you're reading too much into what i'm saying. if i want advice i have no qualms about asking for it. and if i happen to be unburdening myself on some sympathetic friend, i'm usually happy to hear any advice they might offer me.

    Ah, I see what you're saying now...that generally you have no problems listening to advice whether you ask for it or not.


    While I generally try to take the same attitude, I think when I have a very stressful or frustrating problem or situation I can't say that I'm always happy to hear unwarranted advice, even if it's good advice.

  10. #10

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    I've heard this many times (and have actively stopped myself from giving advice when it's not asked for), often it's said to be one of the differences between men and women (and one that causes conflict).
    A woman will go to her boyfriend/husband with a problem, and he'll give her solutions. She feels upset that he isn't listening properly, and just wants comfort. In reverse, men often keep problems to themselves because they don't want advice, sometimes making their partners upset: "I can't believe he never told me about that! Did he think I would be unsupportive?"

    Just a theory.

    I agree that advice should only be given when asked for (whether directly or just hinted). My mum annoys me sometimes if I'm venting and she makes suggestions, but then again I'd never ask for advice directly (too stubborn ).

    I guess I ask, 'what would you do?'. But usually more out of interest, usually I'm happy with my own advice.

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