As soon as I learn something that might help someone else, I want to share it and spare as many people as I can from learning lessons the hard way. Can my advice be too much?
As discussed in When a Parent has Cancer, my approach to helping my children has been to tell the truth and offer advice. More than occasionally a friend or family member would say, "You tell the kids too much. You can't teach lessons they need to learn on their own."
I agree, but only with the last sentence because:
- Sharing insights or advice that took me years to discover or develop may spare them unnecessary pain, inconvenience and grief.
- People only hear what they are ready to hear.
- I preface my comments with a request, "May I share an insight (or tip) that helped me?"
- My comments may prompt them to look at their challenges in new ways that lead them to answers -- different insights and tips -- that work for them.
- They may reject my advice, but store it in the recesses of their mind. Later they may remember it -- possibly subconsciously -- and benefit.
In general, I believe it is better to err on the side of sharing too much than too little. For safekeeping, at the beginning I say,
"I want to only help. Please tell me if something I am saying or doing is not helping you. My feelings will never be hurt."
Periodically thereafter I say, "I need reassurance that nothing I'm saying is causing you any distress. I trust you to tell me if I am ever doing or saying anything that is not helpful."