When is the right time to give advice?

Photo by Moritz Schmidt (via unsplash.com)

It’s ironic that I’m writing an article about how we shouldn’t give our opinion or provide advice, when my whole blog is me giving you advice. If, like me, you don’t heed any advice thrown your way when you didn’t ask for it, then it’s time to stop reading this article.

In reply to my latest article, one of my newsletter subscribers replied asking how one could push past a lazy period (my article was about laziness) if they suffered from depression. Depression is a whole other beast which I cannot claim to know anything about. I admitted this to the person in question, and she thanked me for my honest answer. She went on to say how people often offer advice, even when they truly don’t know how to deal with depression.

Sometimes listening is all people want. My wife taught me this, and it’s taken me a few times to learn it. Actually, she will tell you I still try to solve problems that aren’t there (which is true).

More often than not, it is just fine to admit you don’t know anything. People will respect you for having the courage to acknowledge your limit. If you are caught out after claiming you know something (but you actually don’t), you will lose trust and respect quicker than you can say ‘I told you so’.

I don’t want to be the person who appears to have it all together, who appears to be the best in the world. I’m not that guy. I’m just like you. Struggling through this world, trying to make out what’s right from wrong. I’m hoping to make a change with the impact I make.

But it has to be an impact that is wanted – not one forced on you through my obnoxious opinions.

Even if you have a wealth of experience which you know will help another person, wait to be asked your opinion, rather than throwing it out there with no restraint. If people ask for my opinion, I will gladly provide it if it will help them with their cause. But I am learning the value of keeping my mouth shut when not asked.

We can’t solve everyone’s problems. We cannot claim to know enough about them or their circumstances to effectively help them. The best we can do is listen, console, and only offer your solutions when asked.

Think about who you go to for advice most often. Is it the person who ‘knows it all’ and won’t hesitate to force their view on you? Or is it the humble one, who knows less, but knows who you are, understands you, and offers honest advice?

On the other hand, I’m already forcing my opinion on you. So take what you’ve read today with a pinch of salt.