The Line Between


This week, I have been accepting a challenge to not offer unsolicited advice. In case you have met me in person, I am pretty good at giving it. Honest, I have been working on it for 2 years and am getting better. I like to ask people now if I may give them advice. Or I like to blog about it in a way that they can choose to read or not to.

I’m struggling currently with “the line between” – the line between advice “you should really do xyz”  and encouragement “you will do great at xyz”. I asked for some help from some ladies and I got two answers that make PERFECT sense:

1. I think the difference between encouragement and advice is that encouragement takes the form of you are statements where advice plugs in “you should” Encouragement validates and affirms someones value rather than puts out rungs by which someone couldincrease their value. 

It takes a lot of confidence to interact with someone rather than interacting with their to do lists. Codependency says when I finish cleaning your desk, you’ll have time to pay attention to me and then you’ll love me as I want to be loved.

The scary truth of it is, you will be loved or not at the discretion of the person you love, not for being useful. Anything less is selling yourself and your love for profit.


2. Encouragement is affirming someone’s choice they have shared with you or their ability to do that which they have already chosen. (Such as “I can’t wait to hear how that works out!” or “You will be great at that!”) Advice is telling them what to choose or what they should do. (Such as “You should be a teacher!” or “I’d love it if you…” or “Why don’t you ___?” It can be such a fine line…but knowing who you are talking to will help with knowing what to say/how to say it/when to say it.


And these are both SOOO obvious to me. So why today when I meant only to encourage – in one case my Seester and in another, someone whom I’ve never met in person – did they both come out sounding more like advice? The whole time I wrote to my sister, I weighed the advice versus the encouragement. Because our relationship is what it is, I felt like I could be a little reminiscent and “helpful” to her but tried to nix the advice. I didn’t even bother to offer this same gift to the second woman – I just thought “oh this is encouraging” and said it even though it was CLEARLY advice.


So, while I hope to blog more about this in my marriage tomorrow (or whenever I have time), I am very prayerfully and thoughtfully mulling around simple interactions on advice versus encouragement.


I believe I have much growing to do.


2 responses »

  1. Oh!

    Also “you will be loved or not at the discretion of the person you love not for being useful” sounds an awful lot to me like you can’t say “I love you because…fill in the blank.” Just sayin’…

  2. At least know that there is one person out there who is much worse than you at unsolicited advice. My mother. At 85 she is still giving it to me whether I want it or not!!! good luck with this!!!

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