Is there really a best way to give unsolicited advice or should one just refrain from speaking sometimes?
Here’s a little story. The other day while returning home after running errands, I overhead one of the estate security guard telling his colleague that resumption time for the next shift had been postponed. The only problem was, he said ‘prosponed’ instead of postponed. My ears picked the mistake and it didn’t help that I enjoy pointing out wrong use of words in a sentence. As I struggled between the thought of telling him the correct pronunciation and keeping quiet about it, he greeted me and I settled for the latter.
While I could have easily told him the correct pronunciation without being brash about it, I figured I could let the conversation end after exchanging pleasantries. First of all, he was having an informal conversation with his colleague. Secondly, I had no business reacting to a conversation which wasn’t meant for me and finally, the sun came out to play hard, it was really hot and I just wanted to get home. I probably wouldn’t have had the patience to explain anyway.
The human nature is sometimes more reactive than proactive. While it is important to think about ways to ensure a conversation or activity is seamless, a lot of us might be tempted to react to a situation/conversation almost immediately. One thing that definitely triggers a negative reaction is unsolicited advice.
If you ever find yourself in a position where you are about to give unsolicited opinion, you are most likely going to tread on someone’s turf. This might be with good intentions, but it does not change the fact that your opinion was not asked for at that time.
Regardless, we need to share our views sometimes but then we must consider a few things so that we do not come off as a meddler. When it comes unsolicited advice, here are some things that matter:
Why You Get Unsolicited Advice.
From parenting advice to how you should dress, people always have a reason to give their opinion. These reasons may not be your fault, but expect people to tell you their opinion once in a while. Having this in mind is a form of managing expectation and it helps you to be less surprised.
However, here are some reasons why you might find someone giving you his/her opinion when you haven’t asked for it:
- You may actually be doing something ‘wrong’.
- You may not not have been Open minded during a conversation.
- You may have tried to enforce your opinion on other people.
- You may have been judged wrongly.
- Drama: As funny as it sounds, you may not be involved in any of the scenarios above but drama finds its way to you.
How to Handle Unsolicited Advice.
Unsolicited Advice clearly means you did not ask for an opinion or advice so two things are likely to happen when you are on the receiving end. You either get offended by a remark or see reasons and take correction without being offended.
Unwanted advice can be downright annoying but sometimes, it comes with good intentions. However, your reaction largely boils down to your individual personality and delivery of the remark.
While some people can easily filter the dirt in a comment and pick only the clean, some other people might get reactive and cause a stir or remain quiet about it. Those who choose the latter may have to deal with the psychological effect and mental health. This is usually stressful and one might end up thinking about the issue without actually knowing what to do. Depression could filter in and things could get worse.
Here’s a little note for anyone who hides under the ‘critic tag’ to give an opinion and then hurt people with comments – if you are not being mindful and not proferring solution, you are as wrong as what you’re giving an opinion about.
To ensure nothing gets in the way of our happiness, here are a number of ways to handle unsolicited advice:
- Find out his or her intention is Genuine. – Is he or she credible? Before you begin to worry about what you’re being told, try to decipher what the real intention is. Does he/she want to help and support you? Is the intention malicious? Is this person an authority? A friend or a stranger?
- Avoid reacting immediately – Cleary, if you feel like the delivery could have been better, then there is every tendency that you will feel hurt about the statement. For the sake of being mindful, try not to react immediately. Avoid confrontational statements, maintain eye contact, gather your feelings in simple words or silently prepare a subtle comeback that does not literally mean war.
- Give a Reply – This is totally dependent on whether you want the conversation to continue. You have a mind of your own and it is laughable to expect that you must agree with what you are being told immediately. However, you do not want to come off as arrogant so thank the speaker, let them know you will think about it, if you feel they needed to have approached you better, explain to them how best they should pass the unsolicited opinion. Be honest but mindful.
- Have a conversation with yourself. – First off, the easiest way to implement change is agreeing within you that you need a change. Your choices are valid but decide if you need to behave better. Will there be positive results if your change? Will the change make you happy?
- Make your decisions after you know you can be held accountable for your actions. Do not feel pressured, implement changes at your own pace.
- Work towards your peace of mind. There’s very little you can achieve daily when you go around holding a grudge or a sad face. Work on being the best person you can be because at the end of the day, your happiness matters more.
How to Give Unsolicited Advice.
There are no standard rules to this because situations are different. For the simple reason that everyone has an idea of the right or wrong way to do things, we might sometimes find ourselves in a position where we think we need to give our two cents.
Amy Dickinson (an American Columnist) shares a thought that Unsolicited Advice is always Self-serving. It always rubs off as so but the idea is to do better and act better for a meaningful life.
Everyday we are faced with the need to give an opinion and here’s the most recent experience. I read a blog post that was meant to clearly help me know the exact location of a new hotel. The article had a wrong description and I knew this because the landmark was basically on my route to work every morning.
Here I was again with the urge to give an opinion when I wasn’t asked. I really wanted to reach out to the blogger, I had genuine intentions but I also did not want to make her feel inadequate.
This is what I did – I sent her a private message, introduced myself, told her I had read her article and have an observation, then I went ahead to ask if I could let her know my thoughts. She said I could and I told her the bit that was wrong. I also gave her a more precise description.
These were the other options I had – call her out in the comment section of her post or on the platform where she shared the link to that post. I ruled those options out because my observation could affect someone else’s decision with regards to her credibility as a blogger.
- Be sensitive to possible options and reactions. We are all human, we have feelings and we react differently to situations.
- Do you have a genuine reason? – What do you hope to achieve at the end. Do you intend to help, Do you want show that your know better?
- Consider your relationship with the person – Giving unsolicited opinion to your friend is different from talking to a stranger. With your friend, you can anticipate a possible reaction but with a stranger you really cannot tell. Be sure to find the most receptive narrative and avoid enforcing your opinion.
- Survey the Situation/Enviroment – Overtime, I have learnt that people appreciate you when you call them out privately. You might have good intentions but not everyone likes to be corrected openly. You need to choose an atmosphere that would not rub you off as starting a war. At the end of the day, you want to be appreciated for sharing your opinion.
- Delivery – If this is not the most important part, I don’t know what else is. Unless you are actually gunning for war, you should ask if you are free to give an opinon. Present you opinion without being condescending.
- Profer Solution – This should be your biggest task if you decide to give unsolicited advice. Tell the person what is being done wrong and reach how it should be then. This is where your job ends as you do not need to follow up or keep reiterating unless you are approached.
If you need to give unsolicited advice, it should feel like you care and want to support. You should NEVER sound condescending or belittle anyone’s choice.
Sometimes, you can just refrain from saying anything.
Share your thoughts
How do you handle unsolicited advice?
How often do you give and opinion when you are not asked?
I will love to read from you