Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | May 2, 2018

Yes, There IS a Time to Be Silent (or Hands Off the Keyboard/Touchscreen)


Despite using a bit of partial phrasing from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:7), this is more of a rambling/social commentary than a Scriptural commentary. It concerns a trend that I think has become too common and probably needs to stop: people dishing out unsolicited advice that’s not at all helpful when the other person probably just needs someone to listen.

Just some recent examples I’ve heard or witnessed online:

“Maybe it’s time to move out of [area]” over a complaint about something that’s temporary and/or beyond the person’s reasonable ability to control- Um, hello, moving long-distance isn’t that easy and that decision needs to be made with a lot of factors in mind. Advising long-distance moves that aren’t feasible over a temporary issue probably isn’t a good idea in general.

“Give it over to God” or “Take it to the Lord in prayer” – Honestly, I think this is poor advice without knowing the other person’s religious beliefs or lack thereof. Also, bear in mind that not every person going through a faith crisis is going to advertise that fact, and probably doesn’t want a mini-sermon disguised as advice.

“Maybe you should just move out of the country” over political discontent – People maybe ought to stop handing out advice they wouldn’t take themselves if the situation were reversed. It’s also an intolerant comment that implies nothing the other person says matters.

“Why aren’t you doing [this] instead of [that]” over a job – Sometimes a person’s job choices are motivated by things like schedule flexibility or balancing caregiving responsibilities. What it boils down to is that it’s THEIR choice to make, not yours.

Here are just some observations I’ve made about how you can really be helpful:

  • Determine whether they’re just venting or actively looking for advice before offering any commentary
  • Leave the religious preaching to those who perform that function as part of their vocation
  • Be an active listener when someone is indicating they’re looking for advice
  • If responding to an email or something on social media, read and re-read your response several times before sending/posting
  • Don’t trivialize someone else’s struggles, as what may seem like a minor issue to you might be major in someone else’s circumstances
  • Avoid giving out advice that might be beyond the person’s financial or personal means

Overall, listen more and talk/type a little less – that might be just what the OP needs.


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