Askholes: they invoke fury in the tender-hearted, and rancor in the benevolent.
Fortunately, I have a solution/advice for dealing with askholes once and for all:
Stop giving people advice. They probably don’t really want it.
(Admittedly, there are exceptions to this. Like when your friend calls and says, “How do I assemble this Ikea bookshelf?” or asks you to advise them on the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. Then, they probably really do want you to tell them what to do.)
But when they ask what they should do about their career change/their cheating partner/their child’s addiction/their depression/breastfeeding/sleep training/etc, they probably do not want advice.
(Or in some cases, they really do want your advice, but after they’ve heard ideas from a number of sources, they want to make their own decision like the free-will toting humans they are.)
Yes, yes, I know… they specifically asked us for our wisdom, our insight, our brilliant step-by-step instructions. Or at least implied that they would otherwise benefit from said wisdom.
However, the issue here is people often don’t ask for what they really want, because
a.) They don’t know how to ask for it.
b.) They don’t know what they really want.
Because most of us weren’t taught that we can call a friend just to share our feelings/frustrations/fears. It is more socially normative to ask for advice, even when we don’t want advice at all. And we probably have some friends who don’t really want to hear us just complain without offering solutions. But we can be that friend to others.
So what it is people want, if they don’t really want our brilliant advice? Or if they want to hear our advice but not follow it?
So what can we do when people ask or otherwise imply they need our advice rather than tell them what to do and how to live their lives?
(Also if you haven’t seen Brene Brown’s video on empathy, go watch it. It’s less than 3 minutes. I’ll wait. Or don’t. Because you can make your own decisions.)
And then ask if they want ideas for how to solve the problem or more just want to share how they’re feeling. This is a lovely way to cultivate respect and empower each other to take responsibility for our own lives.
If they do want ideas, give them freely, with no expectations.
Just because we bestow our incredible advice does not put the other person under any obligation to follow it. I repeat, no one owes us their firstborn because we gave them advice.
So many of us have this absurd mindset like, I told you what you should do and I am now therefore entitled to watch you do precisely that. If you don’t, I will be miffed. Or possibly infuriated, completely at a loss for how you could not see the perfection of my advice, and self-righteously indignant.
Empathy and empowerment: the best ways to deal with people asking for advice.
I had to learn this the hard way and annoy many people for many years with my overbearing solicited and unsolicited advice. But working as a therapist and observing that ~85% of my clients don’t do “homework” assigned to them by their therapists… I started to realize something else was going on… that maybe these clients wanted to find their own path…
And I started to realize I am an askhole myself! I routinely ask friends and family for advice on budgeting, grocery shopping, sleep training, potty training, being a better human, etc. How often do I follow their advice?
Very rarely. Because I want to find my own path. But I love hearing their wisdom, their perspectives, the ways they overcome challenges. I love connecting with them.
So there you have it: how to banish askholes by realizing they are not askholes at all but just other people with free will to make their own decisions. My complete advice on the matter.
But don’t worry, you’re under no obligation to follow it! 😉