The art of handling unsolicited and unwanted advice is one that every individual should practice and learn. This skill is even more important when you are unemployed. From relatives to friends, professionals to even future employers, the individuals around you will always have an opinion on what you should be doing next – and going on the defense or offense is never the answer. This point in your life is when networking and relationship building is most important, so tactfully handling advice from every Tom, Dick, and Harry can reduce your stress levels and allow the other person to feel wanted without you having to really follow through.
When sincere intentions are countered with hostility, or even instructions and control are met with outright rude refusal, sentiments can be hurt and bonds forged over years and decades can be broken for no fault of either party. It’s all about the art of balancing, knowing how to set boundaries so as to not invite more advice, but yet not offend the other; aggression and offensive remarks are pretty much off the table.
Intention – Positive or Counter-productive?
You will have to come up with a mechanism to differentiate between advice that is well-intended and just plain instructional or controlling. Is the information helpful, appropriate or at least coming from a positive place? Often our guard is up to such an extent that we shut out even advice that may really make a difference, or that comes from a loved one who would be hurt if we responded with anger.
At the end of the day, advice backed by fact is most beneficial when it comes to professional growth. When in doubt about information that is being thrown your way, looking for official facts regarding laws, resources, and training from websites of authority can help you filter the useful from everything else.
There are times when being too accepting of advice can be just as harmful as being close-minded and guarded.
Relationship dynamics, especially those that are official and professional, are set based on status and power to a great extent. There are times when you may seem at a lower position just by being too accepting of advice, or even looked at as someone who can’t hold their own.
Of course, on the flipside, there are situations wherein a simple acknowledgment of the others opinions and advice can strengthen the relationship and give the other confidence in your trust and loyalty.
Keeping a dynamic in place, or knowing when a particular rapport or network source is important for future endeavors. A functional relationship can be reason enough for you to politely acknowledge advice that comes your way, thank them for their opinion and tell them you will keep it in mind.
Of course, it isn’t always this easy, and accepting the advice most often leads to follow-up conversations and more thoughts and judgments. Use simple tactics to change the topic and curtail the conversation, pivoting away from the unsolicited opinions without hurting sentiments or sounding egoistic.
Limits and boundaries
With relationships which are less official and advice that comes without any base or real assistance, set boundaries and let the other know that you aren’t available for such conversation. Use simple statements like “I will manage on my own and get back to you in case I need” or “I have a different way of working around these issues”. These can gently affirm that you are not the kind of the person who is up for such discussions.
If it continues, firmly tell them that you are not up for advice and opinions at this time. Remember that in situations that are harassing and causing you stress, it is fine to be firm and take some distance. In fact, in the long run, it may even be better for your rapport than constant bombardment and negative interaction.
If your closest friend or confidant is the one that is the source of unwanted advice, then it’s a good idea to discuss your problems with someone else for a given period of time. Constantly discussing your issues with the same individual and getting into a dynamic where monologues and opinions are overbearing can destroy the bond for life.
Friends often hope to help or reaffirm the friendship itself and their own importance. Be aware that the person you approach for comfort at best is working towards genuine problem solving and in the worst case scenario is feeling inconsequential and is hoping to make up for it.
5 Responses and how they function
Having understood the bigger picture, here are five responses that you can choose to use depending on the situation you are caught in.
- “Thank you, I will get to it and keep you posted” Now, this is in the best-case scenario, where the person on the other side is genuinely being helpful. It can also work wonders when you are getting advice from an individual with whom a professional relationship will be beneficial in the future – especially if it’s advice you are receiving in a job interview itself.
- “I will look into it”/ “I will keep it in mind” On the plus side, it can handle the situation at that moment, and you can quickly steer the conversation in other directions. Cons: There is a possibility that the individual will get back to you in a few days to follow up, leading to more dialog.
- “Thank you, that’s a good plan, I will look into if it will work for me”
This cuts out the certainty, accepting the other’s view but letting them know that situations, problems and appropriate solutions may vary from person to person.
- “Interesting, but I have other ways of handling it at the moment”/ “I am not available for advice right now” As a statement, this one will help you tackle a situation where an overbearing individual is waiting for you to act on his or her advice immediately. It is fine to let the person know in certain situations that you are not up for such conversations, and hope that you were polite enough to have not offended them.
- “I’m sorry, I see your point, but I do not believe in that approach” Worst case scenario, there are times when someone may nudge you in the direction of doing something that may not be in line with your value system and principles or maybe altogether immoral – even a simple act of pulling strings to get a job for example. Making it clear that you aren’t ready to sway only makes you look stronger, so don’t hesitate to make that clear.
Knowing that there are others who face the same problems as you are, and may be able to help in ways other than just giving one-sided advice, can possibly make a big difference in your way of approaching people. FileUnemployment.org brings you a community section, where people from across states can reach out to each other and discuss issues that they are attempting to tackle. In fact, sometimes all it takes is a conversation with an absolute stranger to gain some clarity, instead of constantly being faced with advice from a loved one.