Walk This Way

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”
— Andrew Carnegie

Opinions are like…

These days, it seems everyone has an opinion on just about anything. I do not have a problem with people expressing their thoughts on a particular topic. I have a problem with people who think that just because they have advice or an opinion about my life, they have the right to share it – and, assume I actually want to hear it. The only thing that matters is the vision I have for my life. Other people’s advice, comments, or opinions will not stop me from growing or succeeding.

Just a few years ago, this would have been hard for me. As a recovering  co-dependent people pleaser. I wanted people to like me. Helping others was my jam. I still do it, but I try to help only when asked to do so. When the urge strikes, I remind myself it is not my place to point out flaws, assume a problem exists, or that I have the best solution. I’d rather offer encouragement and support – what I want to receive in return.

Keeping Opinions to Myself

Through trial and error mixed with painful experiences, I learned it’s best not to offer unsolicited advice. It is unfair and unrealistic to presume I know what is best for another person. It is impossible to know someone better than they know their true self – no matter how convincing the thoughts in my head may be. So, I stop and think before sharing advice or opinions with others. Instead, I try to plant a seed, offer a gentle nudge – then gauge whether or not the person responds positively. I understand the importance of running my own race – while allowing people I love to run theirs, too.

A couple of days ago, I spoke to a friend about how my blog is creating a lot of buzz. I was excited to tell her about what I’d accomplished since we last saw each other. Surprisingly, she shared her vision for my life (for the second time or more in a matter of months), saying I should focus on the positive. By the way, she has never visited my blog. My friend accused me of being defensive when I stood up for myself. Seriously? She doesn’t have the right to tell me her vision for my life, then control my reaction to it.

Unsolicited Advice

I’m never sure how to handle unsolicited advice. Next time, I’ll try to remember this tip from Jill Haseltine, professional actions coach and founder of Deliberate Nation and say: “Thank you for always giving your advice, but there are things that I really want to figure out on my own. I like figuring things out and when I need help or advice I’ll be sure to ask.”

Are there people in your life who talk a good talk, yet fail to walk the walk?

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  • Brilliantly concise! I love Jodi Furman's quote. it's right on the money. (now I need to check out her blog.)

    • Thank you for visiting my blog! I just visited yours and left a comment. 🙂 It’s so funny how you mentioned that people want you to agree with them (very true); I wanted to tell my friend that I don’t have to agree with her vision.

  • One of the most difficult things in the world is to NOT offer unsolicited advice – especially when you care about the person. I had to learn this the hard way ss well, and what I found in time is that people who really need help and who trust me do come to me when they are desperate enough. I also had to learn that I don’t know everything – as much as that hurt to admit. lolol!!!

    It takes wisdom to grow up and let people fly or fail on their own. Great article…and I needed the reminder. ♥

    • Hi Christi,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree that it is difficult NOT to offer unsolicited advice. I had to learn that I don’t know everything, either. Go figure! 🙂 I wish you much success with your writing.

  • Nice share. And, remember that unsolicited advice often comes at a price- your own self-respect.

  • It is difficult not to give unsolicited advice – there is a fine line between listening/supporting those we love and telling them what we think they should do. On the flip side, when people do ask for advice, I like to answer by beginning with the sentence, “if it were me” or, “what I would do….”
    Another good article on a difficult topic!

  • Guilty as charged. I (s)mother people with my hard earned advice, which I was reminded today they don’t need. Time to change my methods. Thanks Nicole. When two people say the same thing to me in one day, it’s time to listen.

    • Hi Ann,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Don’t be be too hard on yourself. Giving advice is not bad; there’s a fine line between being well-intentioned and smothering people, which I’m sure you do not want to do. I’m guilty as charged, too. The first step to changing is admitting change is necessary. Congrats for taking the first step!

  • Great article! It really made me think and I realized that many people give advice that is not asked for. I hear people doing it all the time in conversations I’m part of or overhear. I think the vast majority of the people who do give unsolicited advice think they are helping and have good intentions though.

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. You bring up a great point – most people who give unsolicited have good intentions. I want to stress that giving advice, in general, is not bad. I am guilty of giving advice. The particular instance I spoke about made me think about the difference between unsolicited advice that is helpful versus unsolicited advice that is not.

  • I think those of us who, taking a cue from Jennifer Aniston, don’t have the sensitivity chip missing, have the unfortunate aspect about us that makes us co-dependant people pleasers. I have been one my entire life. Make them happy so they stick around. Breaking that cycle has been hard for me but i have done it a few times already. It ruined a relationship and I mourn that every single day, but I know it is for the best. Clean the house when it starts to get a little dirty or over-crowded, and move on….without accepting the blame and without hearing bull from anyone else with their annoying opinions.

      • OMG…it is gonna sound so cold, but I just looked at the people who had me eating out of the palms of their hands and just said NO MORE. I need to end this. Blocked their numbers, emails…and moved on. It still stings, but I cannot be part of anyone’s craziness and immaturity. It felt like a snap decision, but I feel empowered by it. I suffer, especially because I loved one of those people, and still do. But he is a pot smoking kid in an adult’s body with no real future. I never want to be the person who supports that.

  • Thanks for liking my post- more and more. I’m even more grateful cause I discovered this post. So true and well written. I will be back or more:). Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re welcome. I saw your post on facebook – shared by another blogger, K. Shawn Edgar. Thanks for your comment on “Walk This Way.” I’m glad you enjoyed it and plan on coming back! 🙂

  • Ha sometimes reading twice makes things better, I knew I read this before but Yep, this is my “friend” She even went on to say oh she writes as well, but she just doesn’t share it…yea right :). Thanks again Nicole. I just got my book via amazon kindle :).