Thursday, August 12, 2010

Take My Advice

Last week, my friend Lucy emailed me at work and asked what was new. Lucy and I are very close and we talk all the time. For a variety of reasons, we had actually had not emailed or texted in a few days. That's unusual for us, so her question was genuine.

It was also appreciated, as I did have something on my mind. The problem was - that was the reason I hadn't really been in touch with her. I had something going on with another friend. It was upsetting to me, but I'd already decided how I was going to handle it. Still, I was touched that Lucy cared enough to ask, so I told her what was going on.

The thing was - I wasn't asking her advice. Like I said, I already knew what I was going to do. I really just wanted to vent. I didn't mind a little input on exactly how big a deal she thought the situation was (I can tend to overreact) but I didn't need any ideas on what to do; I already knew what was best for me.

That's the thing with advice. A smart guy once told me that "unsolicited advice is criticism." He's right, and I try to remember that when I'm talking to my friends and family, commenting on blogs, etc. If people aren't looking for advice, when you tell them what they should be doing, or what the better choice is - what they hear is, "She thinks I'm not doing it right." Criticism.

That's how Lucy's advice felt. "Why are you still putting up with that?" and "It's been too long, you should be past this kind of stuff," were a recurring theme in her emails. She made me feel like it was my fault. Worse yet - it seemed as though she'd put some thought into what I should be doing differently - as though she'd been judging my situation for a while, and didn't approve.

I spent the next couple of days thinking about Lucy's emails. I realized that she really was concerned for me, and was just trying to give me an idea what she would be thinking if she were in my shoes. I realized she wasn't really trying to judge me, and she did respect my choices. She was simply saying that she would make different choices. She was encouraging me to think about what I was doing, and make sure it was right for me.

My story turned out okay in the end. But please, take my advice - when your friends come to you with a problem, listen first, and ask questions second. Make sure you (both) understand the problem. Then give your advice. You might both learn something.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I wrote something about advice too. I was looking up pics on google for my post and landed here. I kind of thought it was funny; your post is both similar and different from mine! I lol'd!