Monday, March 10, 2014

On the Giving of Advice

Do you blog about controversial subjects? I don't. But that's about to change. Just a little. With this post. 

I am not a professional decorator, cook, seamstress, travel guide, or gardener. I enjoy learning new things in all of these areas, and more. The blogging community is so great - a grand sharing forum where I can read, learn, apply, adapt or ignore ideas and actions. The wealth of combined expertise is staggering. Such a great resource.

So who better to turn to for a little advice? A couple of years ago I asked a specific question about a specific feature in my living room - the window coverings - hoping for an "aha" comment that would solve my dilemma. 

What I got in the comments was advice on wall color, on furniture arrangement, on what to hang on my walls, a few window covering comments plus a comment that my room looked cold and uninviting. Well. 

I've not asked for decorating advice since. In fact, I haven't posted a photo of a room in my home since. Corners and vignettes, yes. Whole rooms, no.

I ignored the comments and still haven't found a solution I like for my windows. It will come. Decorating my home is a work in progress. I'm always tweaking something, adding here and taking away there, without buying new stuff very often. My style is mine and I'm happy with it.

Recently another blogging friend asked for advice on what color appliances to put into a condo she needed to sell quickly. Black or white. That's it. She also received all kinds of unsolicited advice on painting the cabinets, putting in stainless steel, changing out this and that.

In her next post, she graciously explained all the reasons why she wouldn't do this or that. So sweetly.

I look at a lot of blogs over the course of a week. Everyone's style is unique. I appreciate that. Some decor I like. Some I don't. Some I really don't. What matters is that the owner likes it. 

As a takeaway here: Read carefully. What question does the writer want answered? Answer it. Give opinions on why, but don't feel free to redecorate the entire room in your comment. Judge not. Pictures don't tell the whole story. Homes, like people, like blogs, are works in progress.

There. I've said my piece. Nicely, I hope. 



  1. Well said...I am very cautious when asked to give advice. I think because I am not an expert on anything!
    Your window solution is in your future...I find these problems have a way of solving themselves when you stop looking in earnest. It might just fall into place when you least expect it to!

  2. Very nicely.
    I agree with all you say.

  3. Yes, very nicely. You are very gracious, Lorrie, always.

    Isn't a good thing that we do not like the same things?! I love "the look" of many blogs, but it does not mean that I comment there or wish to know any more about the blogger behind the blog.

    (I wish to apologize for any comment I may have made...I talk way too much. I'll go wading about in the archives and see what horrible offering I might have given that day.)

    I have just been raked over the coals (behind the scenes) for being "vague." Sigh. I'll have to try to explain the why of that some fine day. Could prove interesting...

  4. Hear ..hear! Well spoken!

    Karen B. ~ Todolwen

  5. Absolutely, here, here too! Everyone is an individual and what is right to one person isn't to the other one. Window coverings down my road are all different, each person having a whole different style and I think that's what makes us all get on, no competition and all happy with our own lives. xx

  6. Very nicely said, Lorrie. I've often wondered if people would dare to be so candid were they talking to you face to face, in person, rather than writing on your (or anyone's) blog. I think maybe not. I've shown several rooms in my house, and your post makes me realize I'm lucky no one has said something like that to me. Yikes. Everyone's taste is so very different, and I do agree with you that readers should try very hard to stick to the question being asked and not offer further opinions or advice. I hope I'm not guilty of doing that.

    Good post, Lorrie. I hope you have a nice day. :)

    Denise at Forest Manor

  7. What I've kinda learned over the years of blogging (and working with people via email)... is that many people don't read. They skim. (And that's fine to do, everybody's busy).

    But that's when it's so easy to miss the point. And, still being in a hurry... thinking they've got the gist of what's been asked for, all manner of unsolicited info arrives. Or the info very specifically asked for in a letter or email on a line all by itself and in bold goes totally missed and unanswered. Ugggg :)

    I think you've raised a good point that could go under email and blogging etiquette.
    Read more carefully if a response is solicited. And be tactful about sharing advice of any kind.

    Speaking of advice, I rather like Oscar Wilde's comment on the subject:

    "I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself."

    Now I know, Lorrie, why we don't get bigger pics of your home... which I always loved catching glimpses of. Thanks for sharing this 'bugbear' with us.

  8. Well said and I agree with you. I guess I should read other blog comments more as I am shocked to read this. I will mention that I love your canisters.

  9. I have been redecorating and reorganizing the kitchen this past weekend as well, that's why I would also like to see some wider angles of your home, since I think you have it figured out!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  10. Very nicely. And I agree. Another thing that astounds me is when someone takes it upon themselves to give advice, without it being asked for - I've seen people tear apart a person's decorating style, color options, crafts projects, etc - unnecessarily - and with apparent glee at hurting someone's feelings. While most people that I meet in blogland are wonderful and sweet - there are some that are regular terrors and like to cause pain - I'm sure they have pain in their lives and don't know how to handle it - but passing it on to others in snide remarks certainly isn't a good way. I will just leave off reading those blogs if I see them making comments in my blog - or someone else's.

    So - being the nosy one - I had to go back and read the one about your question on the curtains for the bay window - wow - some really shocked me. But you must realize - people who give snarky comments are not the ones to listen to. They are not giving advice - they are decorator bullies and we don't need those.

    I love your house - so serene and softly colored. I was wondering the other day how people get such pretty photographs of their homes - mine always turn out kind of harsh and even though we think it is pretty - the photos don't always look like I want them to.

    I don't know that I have any specific ideas for your curtains - I'm a fan of lace curtains - if I had a bay window I would put lace curtains out a little way from the window, maybe at the front and they could be pulled back for a clear view - and then something like a roman shade or the honeycomb shades that could be lowered for privacy at night. IMO the lace would go well with your soft colors - but there I go again - giving my preference. LOL

    This is a great post - and good to ponder as we wander around reading blogs - politeness and civility is always in style. Thanks for bringing this up.

  11. Love it! You are so right! I never ask for advise either. I'm also careful about what title a post has as it can elicit lots of spam posts from people selling stuff!

  12. Anonymous2:50 PM

    very nicely said ... I do ask questions at my site, but nothing personal, usually things related to the weather, the birds, the flowers etc ... the types of questions that visitors might make a comment on

  13. I have from time to time "Put myself out there." As a professional designer I have developed a thick skin working with clients who don't hesitate to say what they think, as well they should. It's their dime. That said though when a fellow blogger asks for advice I follow a moral compass that I learned as a very young girl. "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." Sadly I think the computer allows a shield for people... a filter of sorts and they say things they would never say in person. It's good to remember that the person reading the comments is indeed that, a person. :)

  14. Absolutely nicely...which is the only thing I would expect from you, my friend! I do remember reading the comment that you referenced and gulping. Oh dear. (I only hope that my own comment was not the cause of gulping.)

    I agree with what you have said here. Style is a totally individual thing, but it is also personal.

    And a soft spoken answer goes a long blogging and everywhere else.

  15. Very nicely for sure! Well said!
    Maybe that is why I don't ever show my whole room.
    It is mine to change and evaluate. Several have asked
    me to show my kitchen and I keep debating. I wouldn't
    be happy if people started critiquing it. Interesting thing
    about blogging as the reader doesn't know the whole story.

  16. I remember snickering over those comments with you. Good advice on giving advice, and very nicely put.

  17. Nicely said! I completely agree. Before I read your post for the day, my eyes stopped on the lovely picture on your wall to the right - the one of the trees, wildflowers, the water - and thought - I'm going to tell Lori that I love the picture. And wouldn't you know it, your post was on not giving unsolicited advice. So I hope my compliment is received as genuine. And while I'm making one, I'll make another... When I need a uplifting and cheerful blog post to read, I go to yours.
    God bless! Carrie

  18. Oh my gosh, yes! Lorrie, between you and me (and your readers ;) I am beginning to regret the whole house-hunting series that I have been doing. People's opinions are SO extreme. We are actually zeroing in on a house that we looked at a while back and have been keeping in mind. It is very modest (as per our limited budget) but we like it. And yet I know if we do buy it the comments will come flooding in: "after all of this you picked THAT?" which won't prevent me from loving it but still...

    I think that in general we don't have the manners that we used to but that is a whole other kettle of fish!

  19. ***Applause*** I'm on that soapbox right there with you! I have one blogger who makes a habit of giving me unsolicited advice/criticism & I've had to turn a deaf ear to her. She even criticized that there are not enough trees in my neighbors' yards. Sigh... There's always one (two, three, more!) in a crowd. Thank you for raising this topic because I know it is a sore point for a lot of people.

    I try to answer specific questions when they are posed. And if a question isn't asked (e.g., how can I make this photo better?), I restrain myself from answering a question that is only in my head and not uttered within the blog post. Some people do well at self-muzzling and some don't, LOL, and I have days when I don't even live up to my own standards.

    It comes down to a matter of being respectful.

  20. I am always shy about showing my house interior, Lorrie, as my home is not a showplace but a place to live and enjoy with my family. I do admire those that decorate beautifully or are handy with DIY projects, and I love seeing their ideas, but that is not my talent and I would imagine I'd receive some criticism for it. I am still using the window treatments left behind by the prior owner of my house. Hopefully, someday, I'll figure out what I'd like :)

  21. I missed this post, until your reference to this post today, so I went looking. I agree with you. You said it very graciously and it is a good reminder.

    I have had that happen to me - not unkindness but certainly way more than I was asking about!

    People do feel very free to be a lot more blunt or unkind online than they are in person. Also I find that sometimes it is people who have never commented before!

    If I don't know about something or I don't like or agree with what someone is posting, I just don't comment. I may strongly disagree but unless they have asked for differing points of view, I keep my thoughts to myself.

    Thank you for your kindly stated words.


  22. I'd missed this post as well. You definitely said that nicely in what I think of as your gentle approach.

  23. I missed this post what a complex thing blogging is turning And that is the very reason I rarely show any photos of my yard, or my house. It's hard enough to keep up with the comments on my blog from those who just don't seem to think that I am writing enough "cheery stuff" for them, when I though it was witty and funny, and real.

    Personally I think we read into posts what we feel inside, so there must be some unhappy people in the world. Into every life, a little unsolicited advice seems to fall, maybe each of our posts needs to have a disclaimer on it, "I wrote this in the nicest way, if you can't say anything nice, don't bother.."

    Ah Lorrie, you always have the nicest things to say on my blog, and I appreciate it. Just seems that that are some other not happy people out there.


  24. Lorrie, I missed that post as well and went back to it now. Your response is well put and taken well.
    I appreciate your decorating tips and style and admire your talent. I know you will find just the right solution for your windows.
    Most bloggers are kind and follow the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything, but it is funny how one negative comment can stay with you. Hugs.
    I appreciate that.


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