Set limits on unsolicited advice

Fed up with unwanted words of wisdom? Here’s how to handle advice you don’t need to hear.

Some people use advice giving to control you or put you down. Whether it’s the office know-all pointing out your mistakes or a pessimistic co-worker raining on your parade, don’t allow them to continue. There are three steps you need to take when dealing with unwanted advice.


Assume they’ve got good intentions

Maybe people doling out advice believe you are incompetent. Maybe they’re control freaks. But maybe they don’t or aren’t. Change your perspective. Instead of thinking the worst, assume advice-givers have your best interests at heart. Believing advice comes from a good place will help you respond positively. Respond by saying ‘thank you for the advice.’ Just because you’ve received it, doesn’t mean you have to act on it.

Redirect their attention

Try redirecting the advice-giver’s energy towards something that WILL help you. Try something a response such as ‘Thanks. I appreciate your advice. However, what would really help is having time to work through this alone.’

Stage your response

Be direct and tell the advice giver you want to do your own thing. There’s no need to explain or justify yourself. Using ‘I statements’ will enable you to express your position without making the other person feel bad. A first step might be something like, ‘Thank you. I appreciate your advice. However, I feel comfortable with what I’m doing.’

Sometimes the other person might persist with giving advice. Repeat a shortened version of your position and your intent to follow your own path. For example, ‘Thanks. I’m comfortable with what I’m doing. So I won’t be changing.’

Need advice on what to say? Ask Eleanor now. Send your question and we’ll answer it in a future blog post.

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