Unsolicited Advice is the Worst, Or So I Thought

There are a lot of books and articles written about communication between men and women. I remember reading Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. And although it was many years ago, the one thing that stood out for me was: unsolicited advice is never appreciated.

Women, for instance, like to talk and vent. They really don’t want you to say anything, they just want you to listen. (By the way, that’s why we have girlfriends. They understand that instinctively, offering sympathy or empathy). But men are different. They listen, then offer advice because they want to help you solve your problem. It’s maddening to women because all they want is for someone to listen.

This all came back to me the other day after listening to my mom give me unsolicited advice time and time again. I was getting frustrated to the point … well, you don’t want to know. And after a conversation with my sister, she said: “Unsolicited advice is the worst kind.” Ahhh, it suddenly all clicked. When you ask someone for advice, it’s appreciated. Otherwise, not so much.

So I had a heart to heart with my mom the other night and told her that when she gives me advice I didn’t ask for, it makes me feel like I’m a four-year-old again and i really wished she wouldn’t do it. We talked quite a bit, she apologized profusely, and I really thought she understood. Success!

That was Saturday. This is Monday. I’m leaving the house and she says, “You work too hard. I can’t believe you’ve been on the phone all morning and now you have a meeting. Is that what you’re wearing? Really? Where’s your lipstick? You look really pale.” Seriously. My response: “Mom, don’t you remember the conversation we had the other night about you giving me advice I didn’t ask for? I’m more inclined never to wear lipstick if you nag me about it.”

She looked at me dead in the eye and said, “What conversation? I don’t know what you’re talking about. But if you don’t want me commenting on your lipstick, then fine. You’ll just look pale.”

So I found out there’s something worse than unsolicited advice. It’s when someone doesn’t remember giving it to you.

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