Introvert is sick of unsolicited advice

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Dear IntrovertZone,

I am a single parent of a little girl and work as a professional. I have a soft generous personality but believe I am quietly courageous – I have to be as a single mum. I am always swamped by people giving me unsolicited advice about every aspect of my life from my work to being a mum to how I spend my money. People speak to me like I am stupid, the advice I receive is often things I am already doing or have tried. If I try and say I am doing that or have done that they cut me off and keep talking.

I feel that because I am quiet and tend to internalise things that people think I am stupid, weak and unable to cope. None of which I believe are true. I think few people would survive my life, but I never get credit for the amazing things I achieve every day of my life. I am so over this treatment it makes my life harder. What can I do?

Photo credit: purpleslog

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24 Comments

  1. You are not alone meeting people who love to tell you what is best for you, without you asking for advice. My approach might not work for everyone, but at some point you need to put your foot down. At first I try to politely decline the suggestions, but if that fails, I’ll be very honest and say flat out that I’m not interested in advice unless I ask for it.

    Some people can’t help themselves. They assume they are just being helpful by giving advice to everyone left, right and centre. It is of course nice to know some people is still willing to help, but of course, too much is just annoying.

    Unfortunately they seem to be oblivious to the fact it is rude if their help is unwanted, as in, is perceived being intrusive and controlling.

    You can also try to “repay” with being very helpful too, to prove a point.

    This is a sensitive question, and some might be really offended by it, but you can also confront them, ask them why they feel the need to constantly hand out suggestions about everything.
    Dr. W´s last post ..Enough about email

  2. Most people like to feel important. They get that feeling by helping other people. It’s a noble cause, but people often don’t realize that they are not helping, and sometimes making things worse.

    It’s perfectly normal. I’m sure you are guilty of the same behavior. I know I am.

    I live with an extrovert who is an “expert” at everything (I’m sure you know the sort). We used to argue all the time. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I realized that arguing doesn’t achieve anything. You just end up hating each other over trivial issues. I’ve since changed my strategy.

    I just nod my head, and tell him what he wants to hear. We get along a lot better these days. The lesson for me was letting go and just tuning it out.

  3. In my experience, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you will receive unsolicited advice and someone will think you are living your life wrong. I cope with it by recognizing the source of the advice. In many cases, it helps to look at the adviser’s motives:

    If you feel that they are purposely trying to be condescending, honestly feel you are stupid, or they think they are better than you, than perhaps it is time to cut ties with those people. It never helps to have negative people in your life no matter what your situation.

    If you recognize that they genuinely care and are trying to help you, then accept their advice graciously and apply it to your life at your discretion.

    No one can change the actions of those around them, and if we try, we will continuously find ourselves miserable. The key is to change how you are coping with their actions. I recommend taking responsibility for your emotions and trying to better control how you feel as opposed to allowing the actions of others to bring you down.
    An Anonymous INFJ´s last post ..Facebook

  4. I’m an introvert and I have experienced the same as well. I think it depends on who is giving the advice. I finally started taking the source into consideration. If it’s not someone that I truly care about, then I nod my head and pretend to listen, say thanks and promptly block out what that person has just said to me. Otherwise, if it’s someone I do care about and I feel comfortable enough, I will just be honest with them about their behavior.
    I’ve also just come to realize that the way people treat you is usually more reflective of them than it is you. They probably do this to others as well, not just you, so don’t take it personally unless you know for a fact that it is because of how they feel about you. 🙂 I say this from personal experience.

  5. I sometimes feel the same and I don’t like it much either. What I usually do is just listen to them (or pretend) and just nod. But after that, I still do things on my own. If they have a point, I may actually consider it. I it annoys you, then don’t talk to them about your plans in life. Instead, let them talk about yourself. You can do this by asking them first about how things are going on in their life. 🙂

  6. As other posts suggest, a lot of us have been through the same experience. I, for one, don’t usually give advice to other people UNLESS they specifically tell me a problem they are having or we are already having a conversation and they seem ok with me giving them my opinion or imput about whatever their situation may be. But usually I just to tend to “live and let live” because I ultimately feel like in most cases, people know their own situation the best and are able to work things out on their own. I’ve always had that mentality. If I do give advice or feedback, I usually relate it in terms of myself and what I did if I faced a similar situation or what I think I would do, but I try not to tell people what they should do.

    I am one of those people who is always examining my own situations, so if someone gives me unsolicited advice, I usually end up saying, “Oh, I’ve already been thinking about that”. I did that with my mom the other day, because she was concerned and giving me advice, and while I appreciated her concern, I ended up telling her that everything that she had told me, I have pretty much been thinking the same thoughts for a while now.

    I agree with your conclusion that there are a lot of people who think that just because someone isn’t always talkative and blatantly proactive about their issues, that that means that the person doesn’t know how to deal with their own problems, which just isn’t true. I tend to internalize what I am going through, because I don’t feel comfortable broadcasting everything. From what I have read, a lot of introverts tend to solve their issues internally, after doing research and thinking of options, instead of discussing things with other people.

    • “From what I have read, a lot of introverts tend to solve their issues internally, after doing research and thinking of options, instead of discussing things with other people.”
      This is so true, and I’d never really thought about it before in terms of introverts in general. We’re always told that you have to talk your problems out with other people, because just keeping them internal is unhealthy, but I *hate* that. I deal with things much better if I’ve worked them out in my own mind first. I’ve allowed myself to feel like I should *want* to do it the other way. But maybe I don’t.

      • Hi, Christy. I also hate talking about my problems with other people, because usually if I have a problem it has something to do with a person who I will be forced to be around after having a confrontation with that person. Usually if I have an issue with a person, it’s a personality clash, based on very big differences in the way I express myself and how that person expresses him or herself, and I just don’t care enough to even want to discuss the problem because it usually wouldn’t lead to a good resolution anyway.
        With problems that more so concern what I need to do for my own personal life and to make my life better, I will think through things on my own, and maybe if I feel like I really need someone else’s opinion, then I’ll say something.

      • Christy: “We’re always told that you have to talk your problems out with other people, because just keeping them internal is unhealthy, but I *hate* that.”

        This is actually good advice – for extroverts. I read a saying that sums it all up pretty well: “Introverts think to talk, extroverts talk to think.” Extroverts need an audience to be able to figure things out. Surprise surprise, the people who hand out advice like that are usually extroverts.

        For us introverts, we have the Internet.

  7. Unsolicited advice is always frustrating and unhelpful, even though well-meaning. It’d be so much better if more people understood this, and how it’s always more helpful to simply relate to a person on some level.

  8. Just say what i say when this happens to me: “Thank you,verry kind of you but i can handle this on my own,but i sure hope it works for you!” but say it in such way that you will interrupt him/her and realy make that person understand this.

    ps: i’m not saying you should scream your lungs out.

    i wish you all the best and good luck this problem!

  9. My friend’s girlfriend is an extremely irritating extrovert. She constantly gives me advice as if I wanted it in the first place. It’s always, “You should …” blah blah, “Hold yourself this way..”, “you could go to burning man this year” or some other trite, annoying b.s. Sometimes I just mumble something or amuse her and act interested, both in an attempt to get it over with. I would tell her to leave me alone, but I’m in a situation where I’m forced to entertain her and I can’t afford to offend my friend by insulting his girlfriend. Overall, I sense pity from her and it upsets me. First of all, it hurts people to pity them in my opinion, so it seems like some underhanded attack on her part to me. Secondly, I think she is an inferior person, and it is highly irritating to have someone that I don’t respect try to improve me somehow. I’m not really looking for advice, I just wanted to complain. And maybe some self-help extrovert out there will realize they are inspiring negativity and not positivity in the people they solicit “help” towards.

  10. I am in the same boat. I am also a single mother and professional. People always want to tell me to be more confident and stand up for myself. They have no idea how strong I really am. They tell me that I need a man in my life. Why? I own a house, my daughter is happy and I have a decent job. Plus, I like being alone. I’ve noticed people tend give advice they need themselves. Most of the time, I just smile and nod and keep doing what I am doing. Just remember, they don’t know any better and they don’t want to know any better.

  11. Unsolicited advice can be very annoying, whether it is coming from friends, co-workers, and most especially family. You can just listen, nod along, and go on. You don’t have to follow them. You are in control of your life as I can see.

  12. I have had the same experience: people assume, because you’re quiet, that you are incompetent in some way. Or, unexpectedly finding someone who will let them talk, they slip into being judgmental and dominating (unfortunately many people have this trait, probably kept in check by not being allowed to speak much!). I treasure this quotation from Anthony Trollope’s novel Miss Mackenzie:

    Lady Ball had in truth mistaken her niece’s character. She had found her to be unobtrusive, gentle, and unselfish; and had conceived that she must therefore be weak and compliant. As to many things she was compliant, and as to some things she was weak; but there was in her composition a power of resistance and self-sustenance on which Lady Ball had not counted. When conscious of absolute ill-usage, she could fight well, and would not bow her neck to any Mrs Stumfold or to any Lady Ball.

  13. Unsolicited Advice… is I believe quite easily dismissed as an isolated incident to SO MANY people.

    As a graphic designer who knows bad clients from good clients, and currently within (celebrating) one year of unsuccesful job hunting anniversary – I have had a constant mouthful of lectures and all-too-similar UA’s from close friends, ex-colleagues and relatives.

    After having gone through too much, I simply made a conclusion that for others / all of us who are in this situation – this dilemma WILL NEVER be solved to our needs and wants. We are the victims, and we are helpless.

    I have a strong belief that all of this occurs for one simple reason – People are just too UNCOMFORTABLE for knowing, respecting and realising who we are and what we’ve been through. As much I’ve tried to bring about the ‘awareness’ factor to all my friends, colleagues and relatives – I can easily feel from all the responses I get that my message has never been felt as genuinely or warmly received to them; no matter how calm and slow-spoken I am.

    NO amount of begging and pledging will make Society turn to our cause; or help us in other words. As long as there’s people – there will always be people (extroverts in this case) taking advantage of one another by taking that ‘pride seat’ of ‘tell-taling’ their own experiences to other introverts just to make them feel proud of steering someone’s else’s lives.

    The classic remark “I’m just trying to help.” Simply means “Let’s get this over and done with so I can leave you to solve on your own”. What difference does it make? nothing. No amount UA’s will make your circumstances any better. It is cruel, evil and deceiving in it’s own right.

    It made them appear as though they want to steer your life into and as according to THEIR OWN BENEFIT and cause. This, is a classic Unsolicited Advice at its’ worst and most damaging to the victim (us).

    I believe that there is only one option, despite how harsh it sounds – is that we could always ADAPT ourselves against any incoming UA’s thrown at us.

    But the dillemma will always at some point return with a question – How much longer can we adapt? I truly do feel for the OP on this matter.


    “The problem with depression is that people don’t see the wheelchair or crutches.”

  14. Whenever someone tries to offer you unsolicited advice, feel free to use some of these excerpts from the chapter I wrote entitled: “The Ramifications of Unsolicited Advice”.

    You can say (or email): “I believe we both agree that the basis to a good personal or business relationship is open, honest communication. Therefore, thank you for your unsolicited advice, but as I’m more than capable of handling this on my own, I don’t require your assistance or feedback. Should my situation ever change, I know where to find you.”

    Or, you can say: “Thank you for your unsolicited advice, I suppose everyone’s entitled to their opinion, even if it is wrong. If I ever feel the need to ask for your advice, I know where to find you.”

    Or you can email them the following quote: John Gray said: “to offer a man unsolicited advice is to presume that he doesn’t know what to do or that he can’t do it on his own”.

    Or send them the following that was posted on the internet by an anonymous person:

    “I have a co-worker that always gave me unsolicited advice. However, instead of feeling grateful, I felt:
    1. Angry and defensive
    2. Offended and belittled
    a. I am offended because:
    i. I feel as if he is assuming
    ii. that he knows more than I do. He DOES know more than I do on certain topics, but he often offers advice on topics where I know as much or more as he does.

    Or last – but not least – you can simply revert to what Jesus said: “why worry about the speck in someone’s eye when there’s a plank in your own.”

    In closing – remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with calmly letting someone know that their unsolicited advice has offended you.

    If you don’t take ownership of YOUR power/feelings, then someone else will.

  15. Hi
    I have been in your shoes many times. As a single Mom, before I was a single Mom and even now at 47 yrs old, always an introvert. I had to do this, otherwise, I would not have survived, I think, literally. I created boundaries, I became courageous in my own shoes, I stuck up for me and didn’t apologize for who I was or am (an introvert). I gained a lot of respect, it took a lot of hard work on my part, because introverts are also highly sensitive people and although I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings with the ‘new me’, which was really the old me trying to make others feel comfortable, the ultimate thing was that while I didn’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings, I was hurting my own and my life. Those people ‘will never get it’, as their advice is always there, because they think that they know what is best for you. Therefore, you have to distance yourself, when the phone rings, do not feel compelled to answer it, to deter others’ advice, say thank you and quickly change the subject or say that you have to use the washroom, don’t tell everyone everything that is going on in your life. As an introvert, a very low percentage of the population, the only one who really knows what is best for you, is yourself and perhaps another introvert and maybe one close friend, the one that you can rely on who knows you very well. It’s difficult, don’t tell everyone everything and stick to it, become you. Be proud of being an introvert, extroverts are proud of themselves all the time and they are not afraid to show it. It’s tough being who you are and staying true to yourself, but remember who you are and it won’t matter anymore. I lead a pretty quiet life with my kids, our animals that we rescue, a lot of time in nature or music or a taped really good show or movie and dancing and drumming. But, it takes time to nurture and honour yourself and you are worth it. Because we are introverts, people think that we are not social and if we are not social then we have psychological problems and if we have psychological problems then we need help in our life. What they don’t know is, we figure it out in our heads before we speak it and when we verbalize it, it’s more real for us then. Count on us introverts to help you out and support you. We’re always here. Stay strong. Good luck.

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