Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Advice, Unsolicited

I recently saw a guy on Twitter moaning about how frustrating it is that no one ever takes his unsolicited advice. I’m pretty sure he was joking but it’s hard to tell because we don’t have the sarcasm font yet. Somebody needs to get on that – open source coders, I’m looking at you.

Nobody likes unsolicited advice. I know I’ve annoyed plenty of people in the past with my own unsolicited advice, and even a couple of times with too much solicited advice. A wiser person than I once said, “Unsolicited advice often comes across as criticism.” That’s true. It also often comes across as ridiculous. My ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has taken to giving me relationship advice, for example. Let that sink in for a minute.

I'll be here when you're ready. ~Photo credit: ColKorn1982

This is ridiculous on more than the obvious level. Of course the obvious level is obvious, so I shouldn’t have to explain it, but as my mother used to say  I saw on a bumper sticker once, “No matter how good he looks, somebody somewhere is sick of his sh*t.” I dated the same dude and I could tell you some things that would curl your hair, if I thought it would do any good, but I’m old enough to know better.

That’s the other thing – I’m old enough to know better. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re significantly younger than the person you’re giving unsolicited advice to, you might just want to shut it.

Believe it or not, I've been in a relationship or two before.

When you’re giving unsolicited advice, it’s all too likely that you lack a full understanding of the problem. The person you’re regaling with your wisdom may be facing challenges of which you’re unaware. He or she (okay, me, we’re still talking about me) may have gone so far as to consult professionals and trust me, that is not you. If it were you’d have a business card or something; check your wallet. No? That’s what I thought.

It’s also possible that the recipient of your sage counsel doesn’t think they have a problem at all. Sometimes people aren’t asking for help; sometimes they’re just talking. Not every remark is an opportunity for you to leap to the rescue. I’m a person, not a dilapidated house. Put down the hammer.

This is especially true of blog comments, where I seem to get the most unsolicited advice. That’s not a surprise, since some people DO NOT have a sense of humor. I got lots of unsolicited advice on my post “9 Reasons I Hate Being Smart,” for example. Here’s some unsolicited advice from a reader who remained anonymous:

There's something to be said for being humble. I appreciate you probably have a higher level of intelligence than the majority of your company but you need to understand you're not alone. Ever heard of Mensa? Find other so-called 'smart' people and talk about stuff that interests you. Try and get some exercise rather than having a smoke or necking a bottle of booze. It’ll help with the sleep and the ongoing inner monologue you seem to have.

I get the whole ‘smarter than most and feeling out of sorts’ thing but you have an immature way of dealing with it. Like I said, go on a walk, meet some people and get some perspective. 

“Gee, you really put me in my place, random person on the Internet! Gosh, my life will never be the same now that you’ve shown me the error of my ways! I’m going to run right out and do all those things you said, and then I’m going to write you a nice calligraphy letter on scented stationery, apologizing for the trouble I put you through with my shameful creativity, and promising never to do it again!” said no blogger ever, I should bloody well hope.

For the record, I told him he was stuck up. There was no response.