A short reflection on unsolicited advice
Unsolicited advice — recommendations that others office without first being asked for input — seems to be quite common in my life. Family members, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers offer their advice likely with good intentions of wanting to help me although I don’t ask them to offer input. Some may become bothered when others offer unsolicited advice, but I largely do not become annoyed and can sometimes use unsolicited advice as an opportunity to learn new information, engage with alternative ideas, and explain my reasoning.
Advice others offer can conflict with our deeply held values and be viewed as an unwelcome intrusion into a conversation. Recently, I was speaking with a friend of a family member about poker. He offered what I considered to be uninformed and inaccurate opinions about poker rather than asking me questions; he said, among other things, that I should quit playing poker because all gamblers eventually go broke and that he’s worried I might have a gambling addiction.
I did not become bothered by the unsolicited advice, but instead took time to explain myself as I believed there was a serious lack of understanding on his behalf. Perhaps this person would reconsider his views [in time] and not think of me as a degenerate failure. I think that although he was well-meaning, he simply didn’t approach the topic well due to his own biases and lack of information. Why be upset with someone who doesn’t know that their advice is faulty? Surely the person is well-meaning, but they are simply uninformed. What about unsolicited advice from strangers who may not be well-intentioned?
Perhaps strangers will offer unsolicited advice in an attempt to appear intelligent, outdo others, validate their own perspectives, belittle, or even help others. Strangers’ intentions can be unknown although some context clues can be helpful in inferring intentions. However, I don’t become bothered when strangers offer such unsolicited advice. I can easily dismiss/ignore bad advice and people behaving in a nasty manner. Explaining myself to strangers who may not be well-intentioned may not be a great use of my time and effort.
Perhaps, though, some advice from strangers can be helpful, but this can be few and far between – left to a recipient of advice to determine whether the advice is good or bad. The open-minded, thoughtful person concerned with improving one’s quality of life should be receptive to advice — whether it be from strangers, friends, or acquaintances — they determine as worthwhile.