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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
Jess~ Offline
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question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 12:21 AM

if someone were to post,
"my dog just died, how do i deal with this pain?"
and someone said something like,
"well when my dog died this past june, i was devastated. i couldn't eat, sleep, it was like i couldn't function anymore. i definitely know how you feel and what you're going through. my advice would be..."

would that be more annoying or helpful to you?

i'm asking because i feel like i tend to include a bit of my own experiences in my replies on here. i've seen a few other people do it a couple times too, and at times it seems helpful to me when someone can relate to what i'm going through. there's just something about knowing someone felt/feels the exact same way you do that's comforting, in some messed up way. it gives the sense that you're not alone.

however, i have also seen replies where the person makes it all about their experience, not offering much outside advice. they only really say how they solved their own situation, which i guess could help. but i do find that just a bit rude.

so i think there's definitely a line to be drawn between what's a good amount of talking about your own experiences while giving advice.

but do you think it's a good, helpful thing, or do you think it distracts from the person's own issue?
do you personally do this or do you have to consciously remind yourself not to? or does it not cross your mind at all?

and when receiving advice, does it bother you if this happens, or does it help you?


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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 01:16 AM

It's helpful for me. I personally like it when people add a little bit of their experience, because I can relate and maybe even learn from them. However, certain people in my life (offsite) have given advice and have the mindset that because they went through something that I have (like abuse) and healed or because they have certain feelings, or used a certain coping skill and it worked, that everyone should be the same. It's not one size fits all.

Also, someone who appears as though they don't have experience with what I'm going through and tells me to do x, y, and z, is something I have found patronizing. Though that hasn't happened on here.

There are forums or threads I can't relate to and because of that, I avoid them or don't post in them very often because I don't want to give the wrong advice. I think adding personal experience is something that many of us do or think about doing because certain things hit close to home and our experiences are what we know.

I don't use personal experience in all of my replies, but when I do, It's only usually a sentence or two and it's used as an example. I might say something like, "Have you tried exercise as a healthy alternative? Taking a walk sometimes helps me clear my head." On occasion I've added, "It is something that works for me, though I understand it may not work for you, so you could try..."

Like you said, there's definitely a balance and it can cross the line and cloud the OP's issue. It just depends on how you word it but there is a way of adding a personal experience without "hijacking" someone's thread.

When I was new to forums about six years ago, I overtook someone's thread on another website because I didn't understand how it worked and I hope that is something I never do again.

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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 01:17 AM

I've done both, I think it depends on the situation and the tone of the post. The more similar my experience is to what they're dealing with, the more likely I am to share some of it. I'll also do it to make myself seem more relatable. Like I've really been there or I'm still going through this, I'm not just talking down to you as someone who knows better; if that makes sense. If they come across as angry or hostile, I usually won't, because I feel like sometimes people in that mood are more likely to jump on rather than accept advice and I don't feel like having my personal experience judged like that when it's really not about me. Also, if I feel like the person (in my own opinion) is being immature or blaming all their problems on other people, then you'll see tough love from me, and maybe a few personal examples to prove my point. That's just one of my personal pet peeves. I've also noticed that the later in the day it gets, the more down to business my replies tend to get. Mostly because I'm tired and I just want to give my input and not get into story time.

I've found it both helpful and not. I think it's better if you can use your own experience as proof that you've "come out the other side" so to speak, rather than telling a person who's miserably depressed that you've been there and it won't get better. Like I was suicidal once because of my disability and someone said that they knew of another person with the same disability (helpful), but who was in the same miserable situation(opposite of helpful). I know they meant well and don't hold it against them at all, but at that time, I needed to know that it life would be worth it, and they essentially proved the opposite. I don't mean to call anybody out, I appreciate any response that I get, that was just the clearest example that I can think of.

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Last edited by Kate*; September 4th 2016 at 05:02 AM.
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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 04:34 AM

I try not to but I get very self conscious about it. Sometimes sharing my personal experience had a point but iI forget or wasn't clear enough about driving that point home. When replying to threads, I usually keep my response to what is being asked. If the OP leaves it open ended, asking if anyone can relate I might get carried away

In terms of receiving advice, I judge professionals way harder. I get upset when they say very unhelpful and/or insensitive things. This happened recently with a counselor covering for my regular one. She used the word "we" and "our family...." I felt so angry because as a counselor she should know we have different families. Lol, basic, I know.

Peer support is a little different. We are a community and we each have different strengths and weaknesses and abilities and that can show up in the advice we give. Because we are specifically providing peer support, we may relate on a deep level but have a hard time with advice. It is a learning experience though! And I take that into account. I had my share of some frustrating advice in the past but not as much from teem help as other internet places. I also probably gave some unhelpful advice in the past too. And if I had, hopefully the person eventually understands I tried my best and I meant well for them.
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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 09:27 AM

Personally I find it helpful if the person does genuinely relate to the issue I'm having. It's nice to know someone has been in the same boat, and I feel the advice they can give is better as they have experienced it too. If I can relate to a post I will always try to answer it and give advice using my own experiences, because then the advice become a tired and tested method that has worked for me so might work for someone else.

However I would only ever share my experiences to things I genuinely have personal experience with, otherwise it becomes a bit patronising. I haven't really found it on here but sometimes people think they can relate and give examples that sort of have relevance that in reality don't.

I agree there is a fine line, but in would say I you can genuinely relate that is generally helpful to the person.

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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 11:13 AM

I try to do a mixture. I do sometimes include my own experiences, if relevant, as I find that it can help someone if they have known that someone else has gone through something similar and how they managed to get through it. However, I do sometimes find myself typing up too much of my experiences, which then leads me to delete most of it, and not include it if I can't seem to shorten it down, as obviously the person is asking for help or support, not to listen to my life story

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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 4th 2016, 12:17 PM

If you describe your journey with an issue in a response, while also adding how you managed to deal with it, that's completely fine - it can help OP relate to an issue, and give them idea on how to solve it.

However simply putting "yeah ive been through that, its tough, I hope you deal with it" is pointless. As is somebody saying "I agree with xyz, you should do abc". I've seen posts with dozens of responses, 90% of which were people basically repeating what has already been said. Congratz, your response has absolutely no significance. If you have nothing new to add, just don't bother.

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Re: question about getting/giving advice - September 12th 2016, 10:50 PM

In much of health education, it's actually specifically not recommended to discuss any personal stories. But I do both, and I see value in both. It depends on how you do it, and the topic. You don't want to make the thread all about you and hijack it; at the same time, offering your own experience can make the user feel less alone or help share what you learned from the experience. If a user ues their own experience, I think should make sure the bulk of the post is still giving more direct advice to the situation of the OP rather than just going off and making it about them.

For me, if the topic is stigmatizing but I have also gone through it (for example, painful periods) I like to give the user a quick snapshot of my experience so that they can learn they're not alone and also get info how another person took care of the issue. However, if the topic is more specific and unrelatable to me, it's better to focus on their problems and not make it the Traci show.

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