Ask Dr. Joy: giving and accepting advice

By WEEK Producer

August 14, 2013 Updated Aug 14, 2013 at 8:06 PM CDT

The topic of this edition of Ask Dr. Joy is a touchy subject with some people, giving and accepting advice.

This is something we deal with day to day, and some of us are better at it than others.

What do we know about advice in general?

• Giving advice when not solicited can be tricky and a hot spot.
• Being the receiver of advice that is unsolicited can make us defensive and it feels invasive and annoying.
• Offering advice without solicitation can feel like wasted energy and feel like the receiver is ungrateful for your caring and suggestions.

So what do we know about advice as it relates to gender?

• It is more important that the person asking for advice is receptive than the person giving the advice.
• Men have difficulty when they ask from advice from their spouse and they get little back because men typically look to their wives for a source of encouragement, while women rely on friends and other loved ones.
• When wives offer guidance (vs just listening) men tend to feel nagged or reprimanded.
• When wives ask for advice they tend to get fix-it suggestions and less compassion and empathy.

What if you don't want advice, how should we respond?

• Respond with thank you. Acknowledge the act, but respond by saying,"I'm not looking for advice at this time."
• Explain what might be helpful to you at this time. Do you need a hug? Some chicken soup? Brainstorming?

What are some tips to giving advice?

• Wanted: Make sure your spouse really wants advice and help. Start a conversation with something like "Would you like some ideas on that?"
• Listen: Good advice can come from listening and not speaking. Sometimes someone just wants you to be there, be supportive, hold you, or be reassuring vs. solution.
• Examples: Sometimes telling a story of when you had a similar situation helps the receiver see things in a different light. Stories tend to take away the criticism and the feel of being threatened.
• Tone: Remember that advice is always heard much better when it comes from someone who is calm, looking into your eyes, and their tone is low and from a loving perspective. The way in which you offer advice can be more important than your words.