Unsolicited advice and random rants

Friday, March 8, 2013 Permalink

My mother tells me when I was little I used to run to her to complain about something (most certainly nefarious) that my brother did. She’d say, “Oh, he’s a naughty boy!”Β and I would run off happy to have been reassured of my brother’s naughtiness and sufficiently consoled to continue on my merry way.

I had a fight with my brother last week (and won’t he love me talking about it here!?!?!). We no longer live in the same town, but I do occasionally seek his advice on technical matters (which printer to buy, stuff about phones and so forth). Anyone who knows us will completely understand what I mean when I say that the fight was a result of my neediness and frustration and my brother’s (occasional) supercilious attitude (and his own frustration, I’m assuming). It ended with me doing an Adam Hills (which for my o/s readers involved an Australian comedian getting shirty at Joan Rivers for her Adele ‘fat’ jokes and ended with him/me saying “F*ck you!”).

Because I rehash everything in my mind again and again, I’ve thought A LOT about the ‘fight’ we had – ultimately the result of the fact that (in my mind) the ‘seeking advice’ part was over and I needed comfort and reassurance NOT an ‘I told you so’ type lecture.

Years ago when I worked in the social sector (with a lot of social workers and psychology graduates – like yours truly) I had a friend who seemed COMPELLED to constantly provide advice. I wondered at the self-awareness of her other friends given the patronising suggestions she’d throw at me.Β “I know when I’m bloody projecting!” I wanted to say to her, “I’m not stupid!”

The constant unsolicited advice meant that I had to stop confiding in her. In reality I just wanted a sounding board. I wanted a friend to comfort and reassure me, not tell me what they thought I should be doing! I just wanted someone to pat me on the head and say, “There there, it’ll be alright.”Β 

In my diet blog I often rant or rave about my bad habits and my inability to follow through on what I know I SHOULD be doing.

As suggested by the blogging doyens, I’ll end my posts with a question (a call to action it’s called in blogging / content marketing spheres) but it’s rarely one which seeks advice… more likely it asks readers about their own thoughts, feelings or behaviour. Although recently in my other blog I’ve offered readers the opportunity to confirm my own genius. (And I’m a bit disappointed more of you haven’t taken me up on that offer!)

I don’t ask for advice in my posts, because I don’t want it. I’m just sharing my story. My frustrations. My failings. If I want ‘advice’ I’ll seek it from experts – which I sometimes do.

A blogging friend recently suggested my posts could offer a more definitive stance on certain issues. I was surprised initially cos I’m hardly an expert who should be telling others right from wrong.

But it made me stop and think about my blogging and what I’m trying to achieve. Should I be doing more reading and research, I wonder, to provide useful information to my devoted fans readers? Certainly there are a lot of bloggers out there who are exercise physiologists, nutritionists and therapists who have a wealth of information to share with their readers. But I don’t really feel qualified to offer up content which I believe to be ‘right’.

unsolicited advice

At the moment I share what works for me (and what doesn’t), but know that doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. If readers want to try something I’ve tried (and succeeded or failed at) then it’s their decision. Perhaps my own disinterest in unsolicited advice means I’m loath to offer it to others as well.

How do you feel about unsolicited advice?
Or perhaps you are an advice-giver?Β 

22 Comments
  • Jess
    March 8, 2013

    I like the style of your blog, it is not advicey at all and I like that. Sometimes I think people can’t help when it comes to giving advice. They don’t necessarily mean to (be annoying), but they find something that works for them and believe it is the answer. It can be very annoying though cant it! When I complain I don’t want advice either I just want a sound board.

    • Debbish
      March 8, 2013

      I don’t really get advice in my blog comments – which I appreciate. Even IRL I just usually take what I want from others’ comments. My dad was big on the ‘advice’ front and prone to lecture a bit. I found I zoned out after a while.

  • @Kanga_Rue
    March 8, 2013

    I was dreading this was directed at me. I know I offer suggestions, hoping to be helpful, and hope it comes across that way and not in a directive, dictatorial manner.

    I do ask for advice in my blogposts, sometimes as confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction, and also to learn from others.

    I think you can – and do – share your experiences in an effort to help others. You are an expert in your own life.

    Cheers, Rx

    I love the image you included in your post – it’s the second time I’ve come across it in the past week and it really speaks to me.

    • Debbish
      March 8, 2013

      I often ask for advice – I tweet questions or ask something on FB. There are a couple of guys I am friends with there who are v.helpful. It’s more when I’m just sharing stuff and people feel compelled to offer suggestions that frustrates me.

      The thing with my bro was that we were at the point when it was too late for advice and I really needed him just to acknowledge that it had all gone badly for me… Guess he didn’t know I’d been in tears about it for hours!

  • Char
    March 8, 2013

    If someone starts a sentence with “what you should do …” I immediately switch off. Hate unsolicited advice. Hate criticism (because I’m hard enough on myself, thank you very much).

    I always thought your blog was your way of working through things. And we get from it what we want. It often touches a note with me. We may have a lot of differences but there are a lot of your behaviours that I really relate to.

    • Debbish
      March 8, 2013

      Thanks Char… my blog is most definitely my way of working through stuff.

      When my father passed away the first thing I did was write about it (I texted my closest friends to tell them – making sure they knew not to call cos I couldn’t talk to anyone.).

      I’m not sure if some of it doesn’t come from living alone – that I ‘write’ my thoughts instead of talking about them.

      Like you, I often KNOW what I should do (or shouldn’t). I’m a strong believer in gut instinct and we often know which road to take. I’ve probably talked about some of my bigger decisions (trying to have a child alone, my decision to finish work and move etc) but all along it was only me who could make the decision!

    • @Kanga_Rue
      March 11, 2013

      “Should” is an incredibly judgemental word. I try to avoid it both verbally and in my writing.

      We are each an expert in our own lives. However, unless our own lives are perfect (and I don’t believe anybody’s can be), then I don’t think we have the right to judge others on. I mean this within reason; as long as laws aren’t being broken & nobody is in harms way.

      Often a person criticises in another the areas or attributes they like least about themselves. You can never know what is truly happening in someone’s life at any given time, and this works both ways.

      • Debbish
        March 12, 2013

        I very much agree with the fact that what we criticise in someone else’s life (or in my case – their features) is what we hate most about ourselves or our lives! I guess it’s a form of ‘projecting’ but I’ve certainly done that… or I judge someone for something they’ve done that I’ve not been able to do myself. (Good old green eyed jealousy in my case!)

  • Liz
    March 8, 2013

    Hey Deb, Even though I’m an exercise phys, I find the tech talk rather boring. I’d rather hear about someone’s life and the challenges they face and how they find solutions to overcome them. That’s why I don’t talk tech in my blog. It’s my space and my interests are more diverse than what exercise targets the inside of the foot the most lol. I’m maintaining a big weight loss. I struggle from time to time – more about me than what I do xx

    • Debbish
      March 9, 2013

      Yes Liz, I rarely read blog posts full of tech talk – weights lifted or specifics of training programs. Generally it means nothing to me. I try to be conscious in my own blog post not to assume any knowledge, but am conscious occasionally I talk about ‘Pump’ etc forgetting that it may cause peoples’ eyes to glaze over.

  • Satu
    March 8, 2013

    This is a great post.

    I too hate being at the receiving end of unsolicited advice, and I believe I’m in the good place because I’ve “trained” my family members to not offer unsolicited advice. I guess they just tired of hitting their heads on a brick wall over the years. πŸ˜‰

    As for my own blog, because I love reading and learning new things and ideas, I often talk about them on my blog and I enjoy it. It’s just the way I am.

    And if I ever come off as trying to offer unsolicited advice to you, just email me and say I’m pushing your buttons! Then I know to stop.

    • Debbish
      March 9, 2013

      Satu, I don’t think you are at all preachy and love your style. Your posts tend to reflect reading and research that you’ve done and you offer your own ‘take’ on it – which I really like. And you’ve never offered unsolicited advice to me that I can recall. In fact, your encouragement is always appreciated!

  • Marion
    March 11, 2013

    Hi Deb! Well, this reminds me of the undergraduate poetry class where the professor said she was going to talk about someone’s poem that she didn’t like very well and kept staring at me until most people in the class were staring at me and I finally just said with my hands up in the air, “It’s my poem, everyone. Obviously, it’s my poem.”

    Nevertheless, I have spent my adult life making my living entirely from professional writing. So I spent my valuable time carefully thinking about your writing to give you my perspective, which I only gave because I wanted you to get to higher levels in your writing. That’s a nice thing, Deb, not a mean thing. Getting critiqued means that you get specific things pointed out to you, but it also means that someone found hope in you. However, if you can’t get past the former, you can’t absorb the latter. In the end, it’s really all up to you.

    πŸ™‚ Marion

    • Debbish
      March 11, 2013

      Thanks Marion.

  • Kek
    March 11, 2013

    Ugh. I HATE unsolicited advice! I think most women tend towards “sharing our feelings” kind of outpourings to our loved ones, not expecting them to bloody well “solve our problems”. That’s often a male trait – my poor husband still gets it wrong after thirty-odd years. I pour out my heart to him about my dramas – which are often all in my head – and he immediately goes into male fix-it mode, telling me what I should do to resolve it, when all I want is a hug and a sympathetic “There, there; poor baby” from him. Often, just verbalising the problem helps me work through it and: a) realise that it’s no big deal anyway; or b) come up with a solution myself. meanwhile, he’s completely mystified about why I bothered to tell him in the first place.

    I forgive him because he’s a man and he’s wired that way. Although I may have used the childish phrase “You’re not the boss of me!” more than once… πŸ˜‰

    My female friends don’t get a free pass though. I would totally do the same as you and stop confiding in any friend who was a great big know-it-all, no matter how well-meaning.

    • Debbish
      March 11, 2013

      Hi Kerryn and thanks for your comment. Fortunately for me I changed workplaces and the friend with the constant (patronising) advice became lost along the way.

      Phew.
      Deb

  • Miz
    March 11, 2013

    I LOVE you are simply sharing…I frequently say to the husband:
    I DO NOT WANT ADVICE. I JUST NEED TO TALK THIS THOUGH OUT LOUD….

    • Debbish
      March 12, 2013

      Fortunately I rarely get unsolicited advice in person any more. My dad was big on it… though I’d just zone out and reconnect once the lecture would finish! I do note that it’s a bit of a male thing (from the comments I’ve received) – perhaps women are more sensitive to others’ moods and needs!

  • Neen
    March 12, 2013

    You are so good at articulating how I feel about things. I think you must speak fluent Neen.

    IT DRIVES ME INSANE WHEN PEOPLE DON’T LET YOU VENT! Seriously, most of the time, you know yourself what you need to do but you just need to process your thoughts by saying them outloud. When people jump in and offer their two cents, it’s most unnessessary.

    Grr.

    • Debbish
      March 12, 2013

      Ha Neen.. great minds etc etc. And yes, I agree. “Just let me vent!”

  • Rebecca King
    March 13, 2013

    Guilty. I do tend to offer advise to my closest friends. It is only out of sincere caring.

    • Debbish
      March 14, 2013

      Rebecca, I guess they’d say something (or hide πŸ˜‰ ) if it bothered them!

      Deb

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