Free advice

A friend’s elderly mother’s health took a turn for the worse about a year back, resulting in her being completely bed-ridden. A nurse was engaged to be at their house for most part of the day to take care of her. In addition, all the immediate family members took part, each in her/his own way, in looking after the elderly mother. To start with, the family’s day-to-day life was disrupted, but they all made the necessary adjustments, and they soon settled into new daily routines.

The mother’s illness was not communicable. Other than the persons living in the house, nobody was affected in any practical way by the fact that there was a bed-ridden patient in the house.

One day, our friend’s neighbor, a young lady in her mid-twenties, who had moved into the apartment complex with her husband a few months earlier, told our friend in so many words that, instead of being taken care of at home, it would be in the interest of all concerned if the elderly patient was shifted to an institution where she could be under full-time professional care.

The young lady was not a doctor and not a healthcare professional. On being asked whether she or anybody else was inconvenienced in any way by our friend’s mother’s illness, the young lady replied in the negative, and added that she was offering the advice only out of concern for our friend’s family.

A few decades back, drinking water was available free of cost; now, it has to be purchased.
A few decades back, clean and unpolluted air was available free of cost; now, it is just not available.

The only thing that’s still available in plenty and is still free of cost is unsolicited, ‘well-meant’ advice from persons on matters in which they have little or no stake, and about which they have little or no knowledge!

How often do you receive free, unsolicited, ‘well-meant’ advice? How do you handle it?

More importantly, do you give free, unsolicited, ‘well-meant’ advice?


21 thoughts on “Free advice

  1. I get it all the time by ‘well-meaning well-wishers”. Giving advice, not so much, unless specifically asked. Even then, I think carefully and phrase it.

    When my Mom was sick, we received a load of it. Grrr.

    • The persons who give unsolicited advice are invariably “well-meaning well-wishers”!
      The most popular matters on which unsolicited advice is given are health, marriage (before, during and after) and education.
      Have you experienced situations where people have insisted on you giving advice even when you are hesitant to give advice on a particular matter? How have you handled those situations?

  2. I had provided unsolicited advice to one my cousins regarding her career and I received backlash. I mostly advised my cousin because I thought it was right for me to do as she was family and we lived in the same house. But it created lot of complications.
    After this I am cautious whom to advice even within family and mostly I do not offer any suggestion.

    Outside family, I do not offer unsolicited advice to anyone.

    And unsolicited advice I receive is innumerous. Mostly I do not retort back as it is rude and I do not usually have the energy to continue further conversations with such people..And I hate unsolicited advice to the core..

  3. Get it all the time. Especially on the ‘Get married asap’ types. One even suggested seeing a psychiatrists to ‘remove the mental blocks’ (whatever that is).
    Mostly laugh it off. Apparently picking fights is not an option because there are too many to deal with.
    Dont give it unless they specifically ask for it. “What do you think”; “Im confused. Please help”

    • The best way to deal with unwanted advice is to ignore it altogether.

      Most people asking for advice actually want you to tell them that whatever they have done (or plan to do) is correct. Others ask for advice so that they can blame you if things go wrong!

  4. Free advice is so unwanted in many cases..I always get full of them..get married, start a family, stop exploring life..I called off a friend recently for being at his irritating best..hehe if one is genuine, one can ask but such unsolicited advice is so unwanted/

  5. Oh yes, that is one thing quite easily and abundantly available in our society 🙂 Especially in the kind of situation you describe here. Try this doctor, go to this therapist, try this home remedy, use this oil, etc etc…everybody becomes an instant expert. My response in such situations has been to simply hear the “experts” out and then forget. But behind all that I somehow understand that much of it also comes out of a sense of concern, especially when it comes from extended family circles and/or well-meaning friends. It is just that when you are already going through a tough time (like the situation you describe here) and are doing your best, it can be bothersome to hear everyone telling you what you should be doing and how.

    • When advice comes from a close family member or friend, is only out of a sense of concern, and the person is prepared to back up words with action, it is OK provided some limits are respected by the person giving the advice. It should also be understood that the person receiving advice, solicited or otherwise, is not obliged to follow that advice.

      However, there are instances, like the one I described, where the person giving unsolicited advice is not a close friend or family member, is giving advice for the sake of sounding knowledgeable, and will not back up words with action. Such advice only serves the purpose of adding to the misery of the person receiving the advice.

  6. Oh yesss.. right I get this fone call everyday.. yes everyday from this Indian call centre who are raring to help me of my debts .. that I have..
    I am sure I have mentioned it earlier..
    They are going to do it free and there will be a consultant working free on my case.. which is called debt management..

    I have told them I am comfortable I don’t have a debt..
    Do you have a mortgage sir..
    Yes ..
    Is it more than 500 pounds

    Then what is your problem.. why don’t you want free help.. We will do all the paper work for you.. reduce you installments. . This and that. .

    BUT you idiots my name goes in database as being in debt management. . As I need help ..

    But it’s free eeeeeee. .. so why don’t I take it..

    There you go sir.. Answer that☺

  7. While I have my own reservations on ‘unsolicited advice’, my concern is for the elders with the children spread out. Trying to work out appropriate home-care givers system. Understand some attempt is being made. Shall appreciate further information on how to take it forward. The collapse of the good old joint family system with in-built checks and balances and security has been a bane in 21st century india.

  8. That’s one thing we still don’t pay for : unsolicited advice 😉 Yes, I get a lot of it. No I don’t listen to most of it. Regarding giving advice, I stick to what I know from personal experience. Even then, I offer it with the disclaimer that what worked for me may not work for everyone. Thought provoking post, as always!

  9. In the video, Wear Sunscreen, which is an adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s valedictory address to the Class of 97 in Chicago, I think, he says this:
    “Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”
    I’ve always loved this line.
    So when you get advice, listen. You only need to do that. Then go on and do what you think is best for you 🙂
    But yes. Sigh. Unsolicited advice, free advise is one thing I am terribly irritated by, and am still finding patience to deal with it. I barely do, these days!
    I try not to give advice, unless asked, specifically, at which point I might just overdo things as well!!!

  10. I have been listening to these advices for many years of my life, specially concerning marriage, children, my body weight etc…… I only listen, sometimes it can be very irritating, even if its out of concern, I feel its being insensitive. Now that I know how it sounds, I try my best never to give free advice, where it is not required …. thanks for sharing !

  11. I encountered so many unsolicited advises in my life and everything were given free of cost 😛 I am glad for that. And the irony here is most of the free advises were given by the people who cant even spell ADVISE 😀

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