Boundary pushing: Unsolicited advice/commentary

25 Oct

One of my biggest pet peeves is unsolicited advice and/or commentary.

A few months ago I was on the train coming home from the gym, sans makeup of course, when suddenly the lady next to me taps me on the shoulder. I took my earphones out expecting to hear something important like, “You dropped your cellphone,” but instead the woman says, “You should get some shea butter and put it on your face. It’ll help clear up all your acne”. EXCUSE ME!!

In this particular incident I took a higher road, putting my earbud back in, instead of putting her in her place, but I was appalled by her nerve. Who did she think she was? I didn’t ask for her advice!

Unfortunately this isn’t the only time I’ve experienced someone doling out unsolicited advice or commentary. A few months after that incident while eating with coworkers, Girl A says to Girl B, “You know that bagel is full of carbs and calories, especially with all that cream cheese.” Girl B responded by letting her know that she normally doesn’t eat that many carbs, one bagel doesn’t kill you and besides she (points to me) has even more carbs in her chickpea salad. UM… WHAT NOW?

Problem with Girl A – nobody asked you. Girl B was eating what she wanted and didn’t express any concerns about the nutrition of her meal. Problem with Girl B – you don’t owe her an explanation. If she doesn’t like what you’re eating that’s her issue – let her work that out herself. Next time ignore her or tell her to mind her own business. Furthermore, don’t project your insecurities and self-doubt onto others, in this case me. Pointing out my caloric intake doesn’t make that bagel any less fat. And now you’ve not only avoided the real issue (Girl A’s inappropriate comment and your own insecurities) you’ve become the very person that just wronged you – the Unsolicited Commenter.

I have a few thoughts about the “Unsolicited Commenter”: a select few are just overzealous people who are genuinely eager to see you do better. They mean no harm, they just don’t realize how offensive their “help” really is.

The majority of these people however are just bitter and insecure. They don’t like something about themselves, most likely whatever they commented on about you, and pointing out your shortcomings helps remind them that it’s okay to have flaws, because everyone does. So for the ten minutes you feel upset about what they said they feel better about themselves. “Helping” you with your flaws lets them feel they’re doing better than somebody and gives them that temporary feeling of joy to know that in this small insignificant way they ARE better than somebody else.

If this sounds familiar because you’ve noticed someone you thought could use your help next time do them a favor – keep your mouth shut.

If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of unsolicited comments do yourself and that person a favor – put them in their place. Let them know you don’t appreciate hearing their unprovoked opinion and would appreciate if they stayed out of your business.

Here’s the thing about advice – if someone wants it, they’ll ASK for it.

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