Monday, November 13, 2023

Why advice doesn't work


Question: Why giving advise to others may be damaging relationships and causing problems at work?

Theme: Many of us freely give counsel when it is not requested, without realizing that we are doing so or the potential harm that this may do. In this summary, I give Andrea Darcy 's top 5 ways in which advice-giving harms relationships.


Here are five instances in which it might be detrimental to offer someone unsolicited relationship guidance. 

1. Advice is a sort of criticism rather than encouragement. 

Although you may have good intentions when offering advise that isn't sought, doing so sends the message that you don't trust the other person to figure things out on their own. 

2. Advising others prevents them from developing as individuals. 

Unconsciously, we make assumptions about others when we offer advise. You're thinking they lack the wherewithal to look within themselves for solutions. This prevents the other person from taking the time to tune in to their own inner guidance system or from developing any such system at all. something they do have; in fact, we all do. 

By preventing yourself from thinking about new ways to improve your knowledge, you are also stifling your own potential for growth. 

3. A piece of advise that makes perfect sense to you may be completely off base for someone else. 

Giving advice means believing that your viewpoint is correct and that your approach will be effective for everyone. However, your life experiences are singular and may be vastly different from the other person's. 

Your friend's decision to leave her work due to her harsh boss may sound reasonable to you, but your ability to avoid and resolve conflicts may have been developed through years of experience. However, your buddy may benefit from the chance to remain in her current position in order to finally learn to advocate for herself and set clear limits with her coworkers. 

4. Giving advice shuts down rather than opens up dialogue. It closes down communication.

It's possible that giving an unsolicited opinion will lead to a thought-provoking conversation on how your thoughts can better the other person's life. The other person may feel judgmental and defensive, and as a result, they may end the conversation or switch topics. 

5. Fifth, suggestions tend to be egocentric and alienate others. 

In reality, we rarely offer guidance because we genuinely want to see someone else succeed. To achieve this goal, we need practice active listening. 

The truth is that most advice-givers only want to boost their own egos. We look for validation that our lives have meant anything by making us feel intelligent, strong, or helpful. 

Or, even worse, we are using "offering advise" as a means of hurting the other person or expressing our wrath passively.

6. I'd like to add a sixth reason for not giving advice. If the advice doesn't work out, the person getting your advice can turn around and blame its failure on you. You lose your credibility and a friend.

In conclusion, even if you believe you give excellent advise (which can be useful if asked for! ), if it is unasked for, it may have the consequence of prompting the question, "What should I do instead of giving advice?" 

So, what can you do that advising can't do? Here are some suggestions from Darcy.

1. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying without interjecting your own ideas or experiences. 

2. Pose insightful queries. Questions beginning with "why?" might lead a person to dwell on the past, become lost in introspection, and feel judged. Questions like "why did you take a job you don't enjoy?" can come out as judgmental and prompt uncomfortable self-examination. Instead of asking "why," try asking "what" or "how": "What does your ideal job look like, and how can you locate such aspects existing in the job you have?" motivates one to think optimistically and look forward. 

3. Give someone your whole attention and praise. In psychology, this word describes the practice of allowing another person to feel safe and accepted despite our disagreement with their decisions or behavior. One of the many benefits of unconditional positive regard is that it allows one to assume that the other person has strengths that one is simply unaware of. 

4. Understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. Unasked-for counsel is frequently masked sympathy. "I feel sorry for you because you're at a terrible spot under where I myself am," is pity dressed up as sympathy. To empathize is to seek to understand another person's perspective and experiences without drawing comparisons to one's own. [Here's more on the difference between empathy and sympathy:] 

Only offer specific suggestions when asked for your input. You can always count on being approached for advice when the timing is right. However, if you are approached for your viewpoint, frame it in terms of openness. Avoid making it seem like there is just one correct response by emphasizing that your own point of view is the only one being considered and then asking for feedback. It's possible that the responses you receive will be helpful. 

Is there anything else you can think of that happens when you give counsel that isn't ideal?

Reference: Andrea M. Darcy. (2023, March 23). Giving Advice- Why it Could Be Ruining Your Relationships. Harley Therapy.

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