One of my pet peeves is unsolicited advice. When I’m sad, the last thing I want to hear is, “Well, this is what you need to do.” I just want to be hugged and validated.
I think that’s true for most people. We need to vent, and venting does not call for “shoulds” and “musts.” Half the time we just need somebody to listen, nod, and acknowledge how much things feel like crap.
I understand that advice-givers are coming from a place of compassion, but it’s not always warranted. Venting is about emptying oneself. Any advice thrown in during venting is likely to come right back out. Wait a little. In fact, wait until the advice is asked for.
Personally, I really don’t give advice. First off, I just suck at it. I rarely know what to say, and I’m just not a guidelines kind of person; I’ve walked through most of my life blindfolded, feeling my way around with my heart. Second, I just never know when it’s wanted. I don’t want to impose myself on anyone, especially someone who’s upset.
The best way to support someone, in my opinion, is to be the one who sits there, quietly listening and saying, “I’m sorry.”