Stop Giving Advice!

Giving advice is one of the mistakes we make by being too nice, according to the book Too Nice For Your Own Good.  And I really need this advice on not giving advice!  I can not seem to help my nice self when it comes to offering suggestions, solutions, facts I know, and my opinions. As the author, Duke Robinson, says, “We give advice at the drop of a hat.”  But since we don’t wear hats that often I would say we give advice “at hello”.  Afterall we have all these loved ones who seem to really need our helpful words or they will make the wrong choices or no choices at all.  And then we will be sad because they are unhappy.

BUT Duke says, “Giving advice is never helpful. It is always a mistake.” (I would advise him to never use never and always… oops.) Can this be true?

He says advice is harmful because it demeans others.  We are implying that they can not do it themselves. (And I would add that we believe that too.)  We are robbing them of making their own choices and learning to take care of themselves.  (We rob them of their dignity according to Al-Anon.)  Advice giving is a form of control according to Duke.  It is not our job to manage other’s lives. These people who act like they need us to help them, really only need our love.

So how do we stop?

1. Detach from their problems.  (If their problem is addiction, get to Al-Anon.  That’s my advice….oops.)

2. Offer empathy. “I don’t blame you for feeling….”

3. Encourage them, “Have you thought of checking the internet?”

4. Provide needed information only, “I love my Honda-it has great gas mileage.”  NOT “You should buy a Honda.”

5. Nudge them gently. “So what do you think you will do?”

Great advice.  But some of us need baby steps, because giving advice is so second nature to us.  So my first step is to not give advice unless they ask me.

So, for now, when I am tempted to advise, I think to myself:

“DID THEY ASK?”

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