Unsolicited advice is like an unwanted gift.

unsolicited advice

Unsolicited advice is an undesired piece of information, knowledge or recommendation in the form of help we offer others. It is undesired because no one has probably asked for it, yet they receive it. Unsolicited advice is like an unwanted gift. The main effect of unsolicited advice is the emotions it stirs, oftentimes intense and negative.

We are all guilty of unsolicited advice. One too many times, have we offered our wisdom without anyone asking for it. We are too quick to “advice” a friend on how to handle things with their partner better, “If I were you I would not tolerate such behaviour”, or a relative on how to raise their child, “It is better when he eats at this time and goes to bed before seven pm”.

I became more aware of this issue when I got my dog. Random people approached me to offer a piece of advice, such as the training my dog needs, what kind of food he should eat or how I should hold the leash. The fun fact is that they believed they helped a fellow human out. On the contrary, I was seriously annoyed by their unsolicited advice. Because I hadn’t asked for it in the first place.

Many strangers, family or acquaintances bombarded me with dos and don’ts during my pregnancy. This caused me lots of stress. Especially when people started narrating their own experiences -mostly horrible- from childbirth and the first months of motherhood. With my son’s birth, a new wave of undesired wisdom hit me, causing me unnecessary frustration and anger.

There is nothing wrong with advice; let me clear this out. I accept advice and offer it to colleagues, friends or family. 

The problem begins once the advice is provided as concealed criticism or passive-aggressiveness, generating negative emotions such as stress, resentment, frustration, anger or awkwardness.

Genuine motives

It is worth clarifying that there is the kind of unsolicited advice which derives from good motives of altruism, friendship or excitement. 

Sometimes a friend or relative wants to genuinely contribute to solving a problem, which is clearly nagging you. They hope to support you by offering a piece of wisdom with the pure intention of making you feel better.

Hidden motives

On the other hand, unsolicited advice can be the by-product of judgment for someone’s actions. Oftentimes, one offers advice while, in fact, criticises your way of handling a situation. 

You can understand this hidden motive by the confident attitude of the advice-giver, as well as the emotions it produces; stress or frustration.

People also take pleasure in offering unwanted advice for self-validation reasons. They want to feel superior and tap themselves on the shoulder for managing so well themselves… as opposed to poor you. They will donate their knowledge even in the absence of a problem by recommending how you could improve this or that. 

And, of course, some people absolutely love drama and want to be a part of it by pretending to care about your situation. They bombard you with many tips and dos unsuitable for your problem.

How to deal with unsolicited advice

If you are the one who desires to offer advice, the best strategy is to ask the person across you whether they are interested in it or not. Then act accordingly.

If you are the unsolicited advice receiver, things can admittedly be a bit more awkward, but there are ways to deal with it.

  • You can always be upfront and say you intend to narrate a situation without seeking advice. 
  • Another way is to be strait-forward but polite. Thank the other person for their will to advise you but clarify that you do not need it.
  • On the other hand, you can show apathy toward the person offering unwanted advice. Hopefully, they will get the message. 
  • Or you can change the subject of the conversation, showing that undesired advice is not welcome.

At any rate, try to make your intentions clear, whether you are the one offering advice or the one receiving it.

Unsolicited advice is like an unwanted gift that generates the opposite of intended emotions. You think you do this person a favour when, in fact, you place them in a predicament.

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