When someone starts to give me unsolicited advice, I feel tension in my tummy. It is a sign that the advice is more about the person giving it, than about me.
In Professor Peter Gray’s Book, Free To Learn, he explains how in Hunter Gather tribes each person’s autonomy is highly respected, this respect is also extended to the children of the tribe. They view unsolicited advice as a form of emotional violence. This backs up recent studies on why unsolicited advice makes us feel so uncomfortable and even angry. It seems we do indeed view it as an attack on our autonomy and that makes sense. Giving someone advice when they haven’t asked you for it, is damaging because it stops a person from developing their own abilities to problem solve, it interferes with their own process and encourages co-dependancy. Sadly, unsolicited advice tends to be about feeding the ego of the advice giver rather than actually being of service to another.
When asked, most people just want someone to listen for a while as they work things through. If they want someone’s opinion they ask for it. But, so many people are unable to listen to others without trying to “Fix them”. When someone starts to give me unsolicited advice I stop talking immediately. If I feel the person is able to hear me, I might say, “Thank you, but I don’t need any advice” otherwise I make a mental note never to share personal stuff with that person again.