Unsolicited advice. We've all gotten some and we've all wanted to give some. The question becomes “Should advice be offered when not requested?” The secondary question is how I personally feel about it. This is where things become murky for me.
Offering Unsolicited Advice
This is an area I often struggle with. I see someone at the gym and they are doing an exercise entirely wrong. I don’t mean slightly wrong, I mean it borders on dangerous. Because I am a CPT I struggle with keeping my mouth shut. My general rule of thumb is what my relationship is to the person making the mistake.
I have people at the gym that I interact with regularly. We encourage each other and look for each other to be there. In a sense, we hold each other accountable for getting to the gym. With these people I would inquire as to what they were attempting to do and then make suggestions based upon their response.
As for people I don’t know at all, I tend to avoid any kind of advice for them unless I see immediate danger of injury. In that case I might say “Be careful, you’re putting your back in a dangerous position…wouldn't want you to get hurt.” I did say “might” because even in this situation it is touchy, so I usually just look the other way and hope they don’t get hurt.
Receiving Unsolicited Advice
I listen to everything someone says to me and then process it through several filters before deciding on its veracity. The filters I use are:
- Who is giving the advice?
- What have I seen from the advice-giver at the gym?
- How does the advice compare to the technical things I already know?
- How does the advice square with my current program?
Once the advice has passed through these filters I make a decision what to do.
I believe we should have an open mind and listen to the advice of others. We should never just dismiss something, especially if we've never tried it. At the same time, just because the advice-giver is “big” doesn't mean his advice is better than our own. Keep an open mind and you may see some major improvements as a result.