The younger you are, the more people want to tell you what to do. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be frustrating as you grow up and become more independent. This is why it’s helpful to have a few ways of responding to unsolicited advice when you’re in the awkward young-adult time of your life.
Advice comes in a lot of forms
People give a few different types of advice when they hear you talking about a problem. They’ll usually tell you what they would do in your shoes. Sometimes they tell you what they have done in your shoes.
Every person is different, though, so their solutions may not work for you. Even if they’re right, sometimes it’s better to learn the hard way yourself.
We’re not here to talk about the efficacy of advice, though. We’re here to talk about how you can draw the line when people keep giving it to you against your will.
Remember, It’s Usually From a Good Place
Most of the time, someone is giving you advice because they want to help you solve a problem. They’re not trying to ignore your efforts or tell you what to do, even when it really feels that way.
Knowing someone’s heart is in the right place when they give you unsolicited advice makes it even harder to get them to knock it off. You feel ungrateful for saying anything when they only want to help, or they get defensive about it when you try to ask them to stop. That doesn’t mean you have to let them continually give you advice you don’t want or need, though.
Not Always Though…
Of course, not all unsolicited advice is from a good place. Sometimes people give advice because they want you to change. That kind of “advice” is really more of a criticism or judgment, no matter how they phrase it.
You don’t have to be as nice when you’re shutting them down. Psychology Today even wrote a brutal article on why people give unsolicited advice. I recommend reading it if you’ve struggled with it for a while.
Tell Them Explicitly: You Aren’t Looking for Advice
Some people just can’t help themselves when they hear you have a problem. They want to express their thoughts about what they would do in your shoes, even when you don’t want to hear them. For people like that or the ones who are just trying to criticize you, it’s best to be blunt.
Tell them you aren’t asking for advice, but you’ll let them know when you are. If you ever want it. That may come across as rude, but sometimes that’s what you need to get them to leave you alone. You can always try to make it up to them later after they get the idea.
Sometimes we just want to complain about our problems without being nagged about what we should or shouldn’t be doing. It can be incredibly frustrating when you’re told to try solutions you already have tried.
Telling them flat out that you just want their support and for them to listen can be a hard conversation to have, but in the long run, it will be for the best. Hopefully, they can learn moving forward, and you won’t need to deal with it again.
Let Them Know: You’ll Be Okay
The least confrontational way of responding to unsolicited advice is to let them know you were only venting and your problem will sort itself out. Or, at the very least, that you were venting and already had a concrete plan to deal with it.
People who think you have everything under control are less likely to offer their suggestions. Even if you really don’t have it all under control, what’s important is that they think you do. It may not stop everyone, but it should at least cut down on unwanted opinions.
This can be a little more helpful than just trying to change the subject or avoiding conversation topics altogether.
Redirect Their Energy
This is an especially great way to deal with unsolicited advice from parents.
If your parents are anything like mine, they want to be involved in your life. How they go about that can be awkward and frustrating at times. Even though I know they have my best interests at heart, that doesn’t mean I really want them sticking their noses into everything.
It can help cut down on unsolicited advice when seeking advice in other areas. If you’re tired of hearing other people’s opinions on your love life, ask them what to do about your car or a mortgage instead.
You’ll still be getting advice, but at least you get to control what it’s about and can focus them on areas you really do need help with. For family, this can also show them that you value them and want them in your life. You just get to do it on your terms.
It’s a much more peaceful approach than bluntly telling them you don’t want to hear their thoughts while still helping you keep your sanity.
It’s All About Boundaries
The key when responding to unsolicited advice is to be aware of your boundaries and stick to them. You don’t have to bend over backward for someone else, even if they’re just trying to help. Giving unwanted advice is actually pretty rude, and it is perfectly reasonable to want it to stop.
If you need help creating those boundaries, check out our blog on setting boundaries with your parents. Family is usually a solid place to start enforcing boundaries, and they’ll usually forgive you if you’re a little awkward in the beginning.