You don’t even notice it. It’s been happening your entire life. You’ve become complacent and simply accept it. What is it?
Accepting unsolicited advice.
Think about a time (you won’t have to go back too far in time) when you got some unwanted advice? How did it make you feel? Do any of these feel familiar?
- You feel insulted.
- It feels patronizing and condescending.
- You now underestimate your abilities.
- You don’t trust yourself to make decisions.
- You feel criticized and rejected.
- You feel defensive.
Over time, these feelings erode your confidence. Accepting unsolicited advice eventually keeps you trapped in a cycle of doubting yourself. It holds you back from doing things you want to do. You don’t believe or trust in yourself. You no longer feel capable of handling challenging situations. You question yourself constantly.
Wait a minute!
Why are you allowing this?
I know. You’re scared of conflict. You don’t want to rock the boat. You don’t have the confidence or know-how to politely shut the advisor down.
You need to hear this.
You do NOT have to accept unsolicited advice. You have a choice. Really!
Say that out loud, “I do NOT have to accept unsolicited advice!”
So, what do you do instead of accepting it?
Here are 4 things you can do instead.
1. Don’t take it personally.
Easier said than done. Some people genuinely want to help you, but if they give unsolicited advice often, you can mention that part about them so they can consider toning it down. But for those other advisors who don’t have the best of intentions, you have to take control.
Take a step back and realize you are capable. To know that all this unsolicited advice isn’t about your inadequacies but about the persons ego or need for power or need to be right, makes it much less personal.
When you can be in that moment of pure frustration of getting that advice and know that it’s not about you, you have taken the power away from them. YOU are the only person in charge of your thoughts and how you feel about yourself.
2. Be clear up front.
Know what you want to get from the conversation. If you want advice, ask for it. If you don’t want advice, say it first. For all those times you want to vent, to simply verbally process something, you need to lead the conversation with something like,
“I really need to get something off my chest. I only need you to listen. I don’t want a solution or any ideas on what I should or should not do. Think of this as a monologue.” Watch your tone. You want to be clear and firm and respectful. After all, the person is going to listen to you. When someone knows what the goal of the conversation is, it keeps all potential conflicts from even cropping up.
3. Politely shut it down.
There are times you simply don’t see it coming. The conversation has morphed into unsolicited advice being slung your way and you are getting annoyed and feel belittled. Now you have to manage your emotions and avoid the conflict that will come if you try to cut-off the giver of advice. First, take a deep breath and yes, kind of stop listening. Put the advisors voice in the background, like white noise, so you can get a hold of your emotions.
You are now ready to politely shut it down.
Say something like, “Thank you for offering an option but I’m okay with my choice.” Or “Thank you for your advice but I have a plan that works for me. I’ll ask you about it if I need your opinion in the future.”
You don’t need to apply every piece of advice you get from everyone. And you also shouldn’t let people establish superiority by imposing their opinions on you. If they’re wise, such polite but firm statements will make them realize their rudeness.
4. Indicate you’ll consider it.
If you want to avoid as much confrontation as possible, the best way to evade such an overwhelming scene is to say something non-committal like, “I’ll consider it”, or “You might be right, I’ll think about it.”
I know this kind of feels like you’re blowing them off, that’s because you are. It’s all in your tone.
These comments should signal to them that the conversation is over. If they continue with the advice giving, try something like, “I’m done talking about that for now.” And change the subject.
You don’t want to give them the power to further annoy you so cutting the conversation short without revealing what you’re thinking can be the best move. After thinking deeply about what they said with less emotional attachment, you can choose to ignore or apply their advice.
You get to choose who and what you listen to. You choose your thoughts. You choose who you give the power too. You choose to take back the power. By choosing NOT to accept unsolicited advice that erodes your confidence, you are choosing YOU and a healthy mindset that will propel you forward.
Want to learn more on how to build and protect your confidence?