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Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

It’s Unsolicited Advice Week! A.k.a Thanksgiving.

unsolicited advice

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.

  1.  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.


  1. 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!!

unsolicited advice

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.

unsolicited advice

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!


Dealing With Difficult Coworkers: Three People No One Can Work With

If you read your organization’s handbook carefully you will see, in the very fine print, the rule stating that there will be three people in your organization who no one can work with. Everyone knows who these people are. They are the people who employees are afraid of, who tend to make others’ lives hard, and who no one wants to work for.

Employees wonder, doesn’t anyone in management know about these people? Why isn’t anyone DOING anything? Someone is most likely doing something. Dealing with difficult coworkers just take time to work themselves out. And managers can’t talk about others’ performance with you, as you wouldn’t want them talking about your performance with others.

What to do in the face of a crazymaker who doesn’t appear to be going anywhere?

Crazymakers are often bullies and bullies push the people around who let them do so. Despite your fear, give it right back to a bully. Chances are she will back off and find someone else to pick on. Do this professionally. Don’t compromise your own reputation by interacting with a bully in the way she interacts with you.

Work around the person. I’m not giving you a pass to avoid the people you don’t like working with. If you have done everything you can to work well with someone and he won’t work with you, do your minimal best. Be polite and respectful. Keep the person in the loop when necessary. But don’t go out of your way to nurture the relationship. You can’t work with someone who won’t work with you.

Doing everything to work well with someone includes talking to the person about your working relationship, admitting it’s strained, and asking for feedback about what would improve the relationship. Doing everything might involve getting a third party or outside mediator to broker a conversation. It might include weekly meetings to ensure regular communication. If you’ve tried ALL of these things with no outcome, then you can work around the person. But everything is NOT, “I sent three emails and didn’t hear back.”

Dealing With Difficult Coworkers

You can leave your organization to avoid the person who makes you crazy, but s/he will be waiting for you at the next company in a different body.

If you like the work you’re doing and, for the most part, like where you work, don’t let dealing with difficult coworkers drive you from the organization. Ask for help. Let someone who can do something about the situation, assist you or at least give you the go ahead to work around that person, when possible. And if the situation becomes untenable, before you resign, tell someone in a position of formal authority that you’re at the end of your rope and you’re planning to leave. If something is going to change in the short term, he or she will often know and tell you.

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