Know the Ropes: Giving Advice


Cliff thinks I give too much advice, so I’ve been pondering the topic.

Now that I’m of a certain age, I especially love to give advice to young people. I do this because I think I know the ropes. I’ve been around the block a bit. But is the advice welcome? Or is my advice even good advice?

I’ve had people (usually women my own age) come back to me and say, “Barbara, I took your advice…….” (fill in something good that happened to that person). I had one friend say that my advice saved a whole vacation! (Can’t remember what the advice was now–something about how to react to a situation, but I can’t remember what situation.)

But of all the friends, and sometimes strangers, that I’ve given advice to, I don’t know how many I’ve annoyed or upset. Those people are usually too polite to tell you that your advice got on their nerves.


I often go to others for advice, and in recent years, I’ve worked to be even more open to advice, especially advice that initially makes me bristle. It’s felt liberating to let my guard down and to be more receptive. But I’ve been the victim of condescending and sometimes even cruel advice, so I get why Cliff is urging caution.

When we really know the ropes on a topic, should we give our advice?  Or should we NEVER offer advice unless it’s requested?

Give us your advice, wise friends!

Here’s a great article on the Psychology Today website on the giving of advice.

I snapped these cool rope pictures at a resort in Cabo, Mexico last year. I would never think to decorate with ropes!

Here’s some info on the expression: Know the ropes.

14 thoughts on “Know the Ropes: Giving Advice”

  1. Well meaning advice is sometimes not solicited or wanted and that I think is the problem. I find some poignant questions may get the person to ask for advice. When someone asks for advice, well they asked for it!
    In my business, people with no business experience tell me “You Should” unasked. If I had a dollar for every time it has happened I would have a nice nest egg!


  2. You give good advice and one of the nice things is you don’t repeat the advice. I do have trouble with people occasionally nagging me with the same suggestion/advice over and over. That’s when it gets annoying. Well-meaning advice is always welcome.


  3. I’ve always really appreciated your advice. I agree with the link you shared, it often depends on how the person presents the advice. You tend to share your own experience or what has worked for you, but you aren’t overbearing about what decision a person should take. I think that’s helpful. I don’t think I would have finished my novel if it wasn’t for the book you gave my mom about novel writing.

    I can find advice annoying, but it’s a lot about presentation and intention. In India, I was going crazy because everyday people I didn’t know would say, “you should,” or “you shouldn’t” for very small things, including a random customer giving me advice on my clothing choices (“That’s too small for you.”) in a store. On my birthday I was making something for my friends and they had the audacity to come over, tell me I wasn’t making it right (despite never having made it themselves), and “take over” the process. The food turned out awful. It always felt more like a power play than real advice.


    1. Thanks for this fun comment, Gwen. Excited about your novel. Message me if you want more advice on how to revise/market. Your friends sound bossy about your cooking and wow on the “too small.” Opposite of my girls, who are constantly telling me I need to wear a size down (which I realize is a compliment of sorts). BTW, your mother has spectacular toes right now. In my face down post surgery position, I admired them lots when she visited the other day. A lovely blue shade of polish.


  4. I like advice and feel it’s always good to weigh options. If the advice comes from a personal experience, then I find it is worth taking into consideration. If something is said in the guise of
    ‘advice’, that is when it becomes annoying. Plus, the old ‘I wish someone would have told me’ needs substantiation!


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