You know everything already, so you must know who you are.
On second thought, I’d wager that you probably don’t.
I’m referring to you, the one standing in my personal space informing me how I should be performing the task that I’m currently involved in because you happened along while I was doing it. As you frequently reiterate that you’re ‘oh-so-qualified’ to do so because you spent 3 years working at some place that makes you an expert, you don’t seem to notice my blank stare and occasional “mmm hmm’s”, thus signifying that I mentally zoned out somewhere after “You know, you should…”
That’s called unsolicited advice, and short of stamping “no solicitation” across my forehead, I don’t know of a way to make it clear that my knowledge reserve doesn’t need your 2 added cents unless I come right out and tell you. Then, I run the risk of being just as rude as you often are, so my best course of action seems to be avoidance of you altogether. Something tells me you wouldn’t get the hint then, either.
Still don’t know who you are? Okay Let me provide another example for you.
You’re the one that always has to meet an exciting tale of someone else’s with one of your own. Instead of just smiling and asking interested questions of the story teller, the first words out of your mouth after the conclusion of their amusing anecdote or harrowing tale are something along the lines of, “That’s nothing. There was this one time I…” or, “Oh, I’ve done that before…”
Congratulations. Your need to seek attention just made you a terrible friend. If, in fact, there are people out there that even consider you their friend.
Look around you. Do you see a plethora of people rushing to hang out with you, or is your dog the only one that willingly comes within 5 feet of you? Do you wave at an acquaintance from across the grocery store only to watch them promptly turn and walk in the opposite direction and pretend not to notice you? Do people almost never return your phone calls unless it’s work related?
Take a quick whiff of your armpits. Don’t look at me like that, just do it. Still fresh as a daisy?
Unless you curled your nose up in disgust, I doubt foul body odor is the problem here.
I hate to break it to you smarty pants, but you are likely a prime example of a Know-It-All.
Don’t worry, though, I’m here to help.
Here’s my unsolicited advice to you, Advice Guru:
Even if you’ve been there and done that, as always seems to be the case, try not to offer a solution if a solution isn’t needed. Assess the situation. Is the person doing just fine on their own without your advice, even if they aren’t doing something the way that you normally would? If so, then leave them to it and just stay out of their way.
Offer your advice if, and only if – you see them struggling, or if they come right out and ask. Even when they are struggling and could use some help, give some thought to the way you’re approaching a person when you give your advice. Never offer your advice in an attacking or accusing manner. Responses like, “If you would have just done it like this…” or “No, no, no. Not like that…” aren’t going to win anyone over. You’re only succeeding in making the other person look stupid.
Try something more along the lines of “Those things can be really difficult. Mind if I show you a trick I learned that might help?” If you make it seem like you’re genuinely showing interest in or concern for a person rather than simply trying to show them up with some vast knowledge that you think you have, people will start to welcome your presence instead of avoid you.
Learn to be a good listener.
Everyone wants their moment in the spotlight. It’s human nature. However when you’re the one trying to steal everyone else’s act, nobody is going to want you in their show. Be, or at least pretend to be, interested in what someone else has to say for a change. Ask questions. Respond with things like, “Wow, that’s amazing!” or, “How funny that that actually happened!” Then when you feel the need to chime in with a story about something similar that happened to you, bite your tongue. Let them have their moment. It isn’t always about you.
If you simply can’t bite your tongue, at least hold it for a minute. Share a good laugh with them over their funny story, or give a consoling hug if it’s a sad tale. Pat someone on the back for encouragement and tell them they did the right thing, or tell them that you feel for their difficult situation. Whatever the case, don’t be quick to rush in and make their moment about you. Consider the timing. Offer your own tale of similar humor or difficulty once the other person has had the chance to fully discuss their own situation first.
Ask yourself what your intentions are.
Are you genuinely trying to be helpful, or are you just full of yourself? Are you merely seeking the attention that interjecting at that particular moment is going to bring you? Do you care about other people and what they have to say, or do you only care about your own point of view? Do you think that there might be more than one way to accomplish something, or is your way the only way? Will any harm come from not correcting someone? Are you just looking to start and argument? Show off?
Whatever the case may be, sometimes its best not to say anything at all if you run the risk of coming across as a complete know-it-all.
Silence may be golden…
Recognizing when to be silent is priceless.