How do you want to live your life?

When to voice opinions

on August 28, 2012

When it comes to good friends and family members, we feel that we are entitled to say what we feel openly. Afterall, we are doing it for their own good…. aren’t we?

In actual fact, you are not helping at all if your opinion is unsolicited. There were many occassions where I had well meaning friends giving me advice regarding parenting, weight issues, things that I say….. Let me give you something to think about: You choose this friend because of who they are, right? Whatever that they say or do makes them uniquely them right? I totally understand the need to “Improve” on things, but if that means changing the essence of who you grew to love, would you still do it?? We do not put much thought into these ideas. Our intention was good, all we wanted to do was to help them better themselves. However, we fail to realise that if our friends wanted our advice or opinion, they will ask for it. If not, it means that they are happy with whatever they chose to do.

Do not measure their standards with your yardstick. That is not what friendships are about. Friendships are about people with mutual interests and values coming together and enjoying each other’s company. There should be lots of pats on the back and great wine to be shared. If you feel that your friend seemed to have alot of areas that require ‘upgrading’, then maybe you have outgrown that friend already. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the friendship.

Giving unsolicited advice can also erode the friendship. Your good intentions may come across as belittling and non-supportive. A clue that your friend is feeling criticised and unloved is that he/she has been avoiding you. Trust me on this one, no one likes to be told that all their hard work is not up to par. And who are we to say that our supposed ‘improvement’ is definitely going to make it better? If they are happy with it, our duty is to support their decision.

There are of course exceptions to the case. For example:

(1) The basis of your friendship: some of my closest friends are yoga teachers, so they started off as my yoga teachers, then if I am doing something wrong during yoga, of course they are the expert to tell me.

(2) If you are the expert ( I mean recognised) in the field. By all means state your stand but offer it gently and as a alternative view.

(3) If whatever your friend is doing is harming them physically, emotionally, or mentally (e.g. they are in a abusive relationship) and refuse to see it.

Whatever your reasons are for dishing out advice, just beware of the possible repercussions. But if you feel that the cause is worth the risk, then do it. On the last note: here are some pointers on areas that one should never give unsolicited advice: Parenting, weight, relationship, religion, and work.

And remember, friends are to be enjoyed, love them as they are.

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