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Handle Unwanted Advice With Minimal Stress

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Updated October 10, 2012

Handle Unwanted Advice With Minimal Stress Photo from iStockPhoto.com
Unsolicited advice can be helpful, but often it's just annoying, and repeated offers of unwanted advice can be stressful. Unfortunately, some ways of handling it can cause even more stress! Here are some easy steps to dealing with unsolicited advice that can help you maintain your boundaries without offending the advice-giver.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Very Little

Here's How:

  1. Try to discern where the advice is coming from. Is the person coming from a helpful place, or is the advice more about their needs, and not really appropriate to your situation? Here's some more information on the different types of unsolicited advice and what's behind each type, to help you figure out the motivation of the advice-giver.

  2. Decide if you want advice from this person. After thinking about the possible motivations of your self-appointed advisor, looking inward at your own reactions to the advice and the advice-giver, and perhaps even considering 'political ramifications' (if it's an office situation) you can figure out if accepting the advice (and future advice) is a good idea, or if you'd be better off curbing this dynamic in your relationship.

  3. If you want to take the advice and get future advice from this person, it’s easy to thank them for their advice, ask them to expand on it, and remember it in your life. (However, if your situation were that easy, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article, so on to steps 4, 5 and 6.)

  4. If you want to make the other person feel valued, but don’t want to take the advice, say, “Thank you; I’ll take that into consideration,” and then change the subject. This way, you can think about the advice and immediately discard it, but still let them know that you value their thoughts.

  5. If you want to draw a boundary with this person to eventually prevent loads of unsolicited advice from them, you can politely but firmly say, “That’s a good idea, but I have my own way of handling this,” and change the subject. If they persist, you can say supportive, but noncommittal things like, “I’m glad that works for you. There are so many different ways of doing things,” or more firm things like, ‘Thanks, but I’m doing fine.”

  6. If the unsolicited advice keeps occurring, you can choose to keep ignoring it, or you can gently but firmly tell them that you don’t need any advice. “Thanks, but I really don’t need advice; I’m already researching a solution,” or “Thanks, but if I need advice, I’ll be sure to ask for it.”

Tips:

  1. If the unwanted advice comes in response to your sharing your problems with this person, you may want to find another confidante.

  2. If the unsolicited advice keeps coming and keeps bothering you, it might be a good idea to limit your contact with the person for a little while until you feel less reactive.

  3. Try to remember that the advice is most likely coming either from a place of wanting to help you, or of needing to feel important. At best, it’s meant as altruism, and at worst, it’s coming from a weak place, but not a mean place, in the other person.

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