There are many situations in which one’s opinion is welcomed. These include topics such as fashion, vacations, pets, gift buying, restaurants, movies and other forms of entertainment.
Recently, however, I’ve realized how much people cross the line in giving unsolicited advice. For example, several commentators and reporters have spoken of the need for Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno to retire. As far as I know Coach Paterno never asked anyone’s opinion concerning his career. At 80+ years old, Paterno still seems to be one of the best coaches in college football. And, if Penn State is satisfied with him, is it anyone else’s business whether he continues on as a coach no matter his age?
Coach Paterno is just one example of people’s quickness in voicing their opinion. Some other issues are a lot touchier. A few days ago the Travolta’s son Jett passed away as a result of a seizure. Despite the fact that the family is grieving, many have deemed it appropriate to question the medical care their son did or did not receive. This is just another example of crossing the line and the need to sometimes keep one’s opinion to oneself.
As a rule of thumb, there are certain topics in which it is never acceptable to give advice unless asked. These include things such as: marriage, family (having or not having children, adoption, etc.), retirement (that is when it is time for one to retire), medical treatment/care, or finances (unless you’re a financial professional). Other topics may be okay, nonetheless, one should proceed with caution. These include topics concerning issues like parenting, pregnancy, religion, dating and dieting.
Oftentimes people think it is okay to broach certain subjects and offer opinions due to the nature of one’s relationship with someone. Parents, especially mothers, can feel that it’s their right or obligation to give advice. This may be true concerning some personal but acceptable topics like buying a home, changing careers, etc. Nonetheless, no matter the relationship, unless asked it is safest and best to keep your opinion to yourself when it comes to an unacceptable topic.
Many might believe they have a justifiable excuse for “butting in” so to speak. That is if they don’t say something this person will make a major life mistake. Even if this is true, is it not one’s right to do with their life what they wish? If they are open to another’s opinion, they will ask for it. And truthfully, if they haven’t asked for an opinion, they are probably bound and determined to do or not do whatever it is you wish to give advice on. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule such as if one is self-destructing. Yet, even in this circumstance, one’s advice can only go as far as the individual is willing to receive it.
So the next time you feel compelled to interject your opinion, think twice. Many relationships have been adversely affected and some even severed due to unsolicited advice.
“Men give away nothing so liberally as their advice.” La Rochefoucauld, Francois De