Posts Tagged ‘unsolicited advice’
During the holidays we often see people we haven’t seen in a long time. Your family and friends care about you and want to hear what’s happening in your life. Caring and curiosity can lead people to ask questions that you don’t want to answer.
Friends and family don’t need to know everything that’s happening in your life. None of your business – said a bit differently – is a perfectly acceptable reply. You decide what to share.
Here are a few possible replies to questions you don’t want to answer:
Question: “What’s happening with that nice young man/woman you’ve been dating?”
Answer: “Things are going great. Thanks for asking.”
Question: “Are you guys serious?”
Answer: “We like each other a lot. If it goes further, I’ll let you know.” Aka, this conversation is over.
Here’s another scenario:
Question: “Are you dating anyone?”
Answer: “No, not right now.”
Question: “You know, I met my husband on Match.com. Have you tried online dating?”
Answer: “That’s great that you met online. I don’t really want to talk about my dating life. What else is happening?”
The next thing she says, “You really should try it. You need to be open. You just never know.”
Answer: “I really appreciate your interest. I’m not looking for dating advice right now, but I really appreciate your concern.” Aka, shut up.
The examples above are about romantic relationships but they could have been about careers, kids, or finances. Your response can be the same. You don’t need to tell anyone anything you don’t want to. It’s ok to tell people to back off and that something is none of their business. You can say it nicely. Just don’t let yourself get cornered into giving information you don’t want to share.
An appropriate answer to almost any personal question is, “I don’t have anything to report on this front, but I’ll let you know when I do.”
An appropriate response to any type of unsolicited advice is, “Thanks so much for your concern. I’m not looking for advice on _____, but I really appreciate you caring.”
Telling someone to back off is perfectly appropriate. S/he’ll get the point and your personal life will remain personal. Boundaries are your friend.
Read How to Say Anything to Anyone, and be ready to manage intrusive questions and unsolicited advice this holiday season.
It’s hard to watch people do things that damage them – personally or professionally. And yet, if they haven’t asked for feedback, people likely won’t listen to unsolicited advice, so don’t bother giving it.
If you really want to give unsolicited advice, ask for permission and make sure you get a true “yes” before speaking up.
The conversation could go something like this:
“I noticed we’re getting behind on the XYZ project. I have a couple of ideas about what we can do. Would you be interested in talking about them?” Or, “That Monday meeting is rough. I feel for you. I used to run meetings like that. Would you be interested in talking about some meeting management strategies? I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned.”
After you offer to talk (aka, give your opinion), listen and watch the response you get. Does the person’s words and body language portray a true “yes, I’d like your opinion” or what seems like an “I’m supposed to say yes” reply? If you get the latter, you’re likely just giving unwanted advice that won’t be heard. If that’s the case, let it go. But if the person appears generally interested and open, proceed.
You could also say something like:
“Last week we were talking about your frustrations about not being promoted. I have a couple of ideas about that. Do you want to talk about them? Either way is fine, but I thought I’d offer.”
Or, “That was a tough conversation during today’s staff meeting. It’s hard to present ideas and not have them be embraced. I have a couple of thoughts about ways you can approach the conversation during the next meeting. Want to talk about them?”
If you make the invitation to talk, the other person has to be able to say no. An invitation is only an invitation if no is an acceptable answer. You can’t ask if the person wants your input and then keep talking even if he verbally or physically said no.
Be brave. If you care about someone personally or professionally and you see him doing something that gets in the way of his success, ask permission to say something. If you get the go ahead, proceed. If you get a “no thank you,” accept that and move on. You’ve done your part.
Read How to Say Anything to Anyone, and get the words to have even the toughest conversations.
You may be looking forward to seeing your family this weekend, but may not be looking forward to their inquiries and advice about the status of your life.
Unsolicited feedback is often unwelcome. Most people are more open to hearing another’s point of view when she asked us if she can share it first.
If your family starts to pry or give unsolicited feedback, there are a few things you can do.
- Thank them for caring. Then tell them that you’re really trying not to think about ______ (insert topic). And ask if you can talk about something else.
- Thank them for caring, and tell them that you aren’t looking for advice about _____ (insert topic). Again, you appreciate their concern and will come to them for guidance, when that’s what you want.
The people in your life care about you. They want to make a difference. Chances are they are not even aware they’re giving unsolicited advice. Many people give advice so automatically, they don’t even know they’re doing it.
Things not to do:
Don’t apologize for not wanting to talk about a subject or for rejecting unsolicited advice. Unless you’ve been rude or mean spirited in your communication, you have nothing to apologize for.
You could consider trying to prevent unsolicited advice by setting expectations before awkward conversations happen. Tell your family and friends that you are excited to see them, but don’t want to talk about _______ (insert job, spouse, speeding tickets, weight loss, or whatever ails you). Or, tell them that you do want to share what’s happening with (insert situation) but are not looking for advice. Tell your family and friends, if they can resist the temptation to tell you what to do, you’ll be happy to give them an update.
Here are a few sample scripts:
“Thanks so much for being concerned about my career. I really appreciate it. I’m not looking for advice right now, but if I want to talk about it, I’ll let you know. Thanks again for being concerned.”
Yes, you really can say this.
Here’s another one: “Thanks so much for being concerned about me. I know you want me to be happy and only want what’s best for me. I don’t really want to talk about my relationship with Lisa/Bob. But again, I really appreciate your concern.”
Yes, you can really say that too.
If you want more sample language, there are many more examples in my new book. And in honor of unsolicited advice week (a.k.a. Thanksgiving), we’re having a buy one-get-one free special. Maybe your mom will read the book!!
You may be concerned that speaking up will damage the relationship and decide it’s easier to say nothing. But the relationship is damaged anyway. When we avoid people or are afraid to say what we really think, our relationships need work. So why not speak up, make a request, and see if things get better?
If you have a tendency to give unsolicited advice, catch yourself. Try this instead, “I’ve been thinking about your desire to break into a new field work wise. I have a couple of ideas. Do you want to talk about it?”
Or, “I’ve been thinking about your relationship with Joe/Suzanne. You mentioned it’s been a struggle of late. Do you want to talk about it?”
Then let the person say no. If you’re going to make a conversation available, it must be ok to say no! If the person can’t say no without offending you or damaging your relationship, you’ve made a demand, not a request.
Make your holiday less stressful and more fun by telling the truth. If it goes badly, you can blame me. Be sure to call and tell me, so I can write about you next week. I’ll ask for your permission before I do it!