It is a way of life I’ve been told but I sometimes ask myself what did we do to deserve this? Many of us in the sporting arena have to face several encounters where unsolicited advice comes our way.
Perhaps it’s because I talk less and can be a good listener or maybe I look like I need help. Whatever the reason, there is just no escape. The same goes for a lot of others in the sporting fraternity from athletes to officials, referees, managers, kit men, facility managers, groundsmen and the list can go on.
There’s this guy, seemingly in his late 30s who works at the NP Station which I frequently visit. No disrespect to him but he’s been there for years pumping fuel into people’s vehicles but always has advice for me on what he believes is best for national football. And even when I respectfully proceed to hear him out without that deep “are you being serious” stare, he still manages to verbally attack me because he assumes I am not bothering to take him on.
From who should captain the national team since the 2013 Gold Cup, to what tactics Stephen Hart and Dennis Lawrence should have applied, why the Home of Football (Couva) should have been in Mayaro and the latest, why Robert Hadad should try to get advice from Sepp Blatter on how to run football.
Seriously? That one made me send the windows up faster than I usually do when the rain starts pouring down. I almost drove off before my tank was not nearly reading half-filled.
Giving or receiving unsolicited advice can be a double-edged sword in any form of business. There are times when it may be worth listening to, very thoughtful and helpful. However, there are other times when it doesn’t come across very well. I guess it is something that persons heavily involved must be able to undergo without overreacting, instead, maintaining poise and showing some kind of respect to the source.
The thing is, sometimes all we want is those same things in return. The thing about sport is almost everyone follows it in a big way and believe they can relate to it and have a right to press home their views, similar to politics.
Too many times people offer confusing, ridiculous coaching explanations. You listen for a minute, you browse through the comments quickly and just go back to your previous routine. Listen, most of us are decent enough and we too are always trying to find ways to improve our craft and also help others. But don't take our humility as a sign of weakness.
You really shouldn't be making disrespectful comments about the coach's team selection, or the player's choice of pass, if it is you are the bus driver. It's like me as a communications professional advising the nurse as to why she should allow me to stand rather than sit when applying the PCR COVID-19 test.
With the advent of social media, it's not like 15 years ago when one's advice or comments stayed in their immediate circle. It now reaches targeted persons faster and clearer than before and easily accessible by thousands on the web.
Walking up to a stranger and giving them uninvited coaching tips or advice on how they should do their job if you have no proven track record or haven’t even attempted to ease into the conversation before unleashing your assault is a major no-no. You see, most times it’s not just a quick pointer but rather the person or group stepping completely over the line.
Unsolicited advice can also make persons, athletes and others in the arena feel stressed, offended and even hurt depending on the manner in which it is delivered and the timing of it. Even when it comes from the people who know us, loves us and wants the best for us, unsolicited advice can be seen as criticism and cause us to internalise generalisations and assumptions that just aren’t true. It is important for us to understand this also when we are the ones offering it or at least thinking about doing so.
There are a lot of reasons that people give us unwarranted advice. Your teammate might give you unwanted advice because he’s concerned for you and wants the best for you. Your coworker might genuinely want to help you or make things easier for you…but there may also be more to it than that. Sometimes they really believe it is their right and that they are more equipped or educated on the topic than you are.
As a piece, I read on medium.com states, “As humans, we all have our little hang-ups and, sometimes, that can tinge our view of the people and situations around us. When life gets tough, it can become easy to project our unhappiness on the people around us. Some people give advice because they need emotional validation or they have issues self-regulating their feelings. Others might give advice in order to feel like they have some sort of control on the people around them.” I couldn’t agree more.
Some quick steps to handling the unwanted advice - Shut it down early; Don’t take it personally; Move along and always try to examine the source properly before deciding your next step. Lastly, do your best to appear interested and slip in a smile somewhere in between. And sure, we can all make space for your advice, just make sure it's qualified and worth the time.
Shaun Fuentes is the head of TTFA Media. He is a former FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey The views expressed are solely his and not a representation of any organisation. email@example.com