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How to Maintain Proper Boundaries When it Comes to Advice

Last Monday, I posted an article What To Do When Someone Gives You Unsolicited Advice, where I gave guidelines and examples of how to respond when someone is giving you advice that you just don’t want.

This week I’m turning the tables a little bit. Rather than focus on how to respond when someone advises you when you really don’t want it, we are going to focus on how to establish boundaries in a way so we can be sure that we are not the ones giving unwanted advice.

In my experience, this is a much more difficult feat to accomplish because it really challenges us to see the not-so-great aspects of ourselves. Yet, the irony is that if we don’t like it when OTHERS do it to us then its very likely that we ourselves do it to others. It’s how what Swiss psychologist Carl Jung referred to as the shadow: simply, the not-so-great parts of ourselves that we are not always aware of.


That’s Tweetable!  Click to Tweet: When we ask if people want advice before giving it we respect the person’s boundaries. And so, they will respect US more. @jenilyn8705

That all being said, what guidelines can we give to ourselves to be sure that we don’t give unsolicited advice and end up ticking someone else off? Here’s a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Don’t give advice unless the person asks for it.

If the person didn’t directly say something like “What do you think I should do about this?” then don’t give them advice. It may feel very strange at first especially if you’re one who tends to be an advice-giver (like me!), but in doing so it really helps the other person stand more in their own personal power. It encourages them to take responsibility for their lives and know exactly what they want and how to ask people for it rather than blame others.

Though many of us don’t fully embody the concept, most of us simply just want a listening ear and emotional support rather than advice. Focus all your energy on holding that safe supportive space for them and then it’ll be a bit easier to fall out of the advice-giving habit.

If you get the sense that someone is wanting advice but they are not asking for it, then ask them.

If the person is off venting away and you seem to start getting a vibe that they want some sort of feedback or guidance of some sort then ask them something like “What are you wanting from me right now?”or “Would you like some advice?” This puts the power back in their court. They now have to take personal responsibility to know exactly what they are looking for, which prevents them from really placing the blame on others.

If the person has some codependent tendencies, then this will be difficult for them. It will take time for them to really get used to really “taking the drivers seat” so to speak, so be patient and give them time to really answer.

If you do give advice, ask for feedback.

If it does come to a point in the discussion where you do give advice, then ask them if it was helpful. Ask them how they feel now. Does it feel like it was right on or was something “off”? Be willing and open to hear what they have to say no matter what – good or bad.

All of these tips here are a way to help you encourage the other person to fully focus on themselves and take responsibility. This reduces the chances of the person getting offended or aggravated.

These guidelines also encourage you to really take full responsibility and be strong enough to really be willing to hear what others have to say – good or bad.

Overall, this is very difficult and can take years to really get used to it. Be patient with yourself and remember that practice makes perfect! So the more you do it, the better!

Set proper boundaries with your advice-giving today!

Think of a time recently where you gave advice to someone who didn’t really ask for it. Imagine how you could have acted differently. What could you have said or asked this person? How could you have better supported them?

Share your thoughts below!