This weekend I really needed to vent about some stuff. You know when you want to let it all out and just talk. You don’t want advice from anyone, you just want someone to listen. Well, that’s exactly what I needed, but that’s not what I got.
So I was talking to my mom and wanted to have her just listen to me cry and tell me everything was going to be fine. Instead, she gave me a lot of unsolicited advice, which ended up making me feel worse. After that conversation, I called one of my friends. She took my situation and turned it into a half-hour conversation about her and how she went through the same exact thing (she didn’t) and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t really talk to anyone the rest of the day because I was so annoyed.
Unsolicited advice is the worst because you haven’t asked for it. You just want someone to listen to you and be there. People also are hard-pressed to listen to unsolicited advice because they didn’t want to hear it in the first place. How can you tell if you should dish out advice or just be a shoulder to cry on? I’m about to tell you!
If your friend is angry about something, she's not looking for your insight right now. Think about when you're mad. You want to be mad. You don't want to "take a step back" or "look at things from another angle". You want to be angry and vent about how angry you are. If your friend is angry, don't launch into your best Dr. Phil impression.
Is your friend crying? About to cry? Are there any signs of tears at all? Don't talk. Tell her that you're there for her and let her cry her eyes out. Give her a hug. If you're on the phone, tell her that you're mentally giving her a hug. Just let her get those tears out because that's really what she needs.
She Keeps Trying To Talk Over You
If you're trying to give advice and she doesn't want it, your friend will probably start interrupting you with frequent "But, no," which is a big "You're not listening to me!" Do both of you a favor and let her talk first.
She Keeps Trying To Divert The Conversation Back To Her
If you're trying to give your friend advice by claiming something similar happened to you, she's probably going to try to try to move the focus of the conversation back to her. That's only natural since, you know, she wanted you to listen to her in the first place. If you notice that she's doing this, let her.
You Didn't Really Have A Similar Experience
Did you really have the same thing happen to you or are you just taking another friend's story and inserting yourself into it so you can give advice? Even if you did have a similar experience, your friend doesn't want to hear about it right now. She wants to talk. And she wants you to listen.
She Gives You Short Responses
If your friend is responding to you with short answers or blankly nodding at you or giving you a "Yeah, sure" over the phone, she doesn't want to hear it.
She Didn't Ask You For It
This is the easiest way to tell if you should give your friend advice, really. Did your friend ask for advice? No? Then don't give her any. The common problem with unsolicited advice is that the advice-giver often thinks the person wants it anyway. They don't. Even if you have the world's best advice to give, they won't listen because they didn't ask you for it. So just let your friend vent and listen to her. When she does ask you for advice, be ready!
Do you ever get unsolicited advice? How do you feel about it? Do you think you give unsolicited advice? Tell us in the comments!