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Unsolicited Advice

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Stop Sign indicating stop giving unsolicited advice

I could write a very short article on unsolicited advice; one declarative sentence. Stop, Don’t Do It! It is rarely a good plan in any relationship. Why?

  1. It doesn’t work, at least not often, and it can strain relationships
  2. It makes you responsible if your advice turns out poorly.

There are some key words to define. Lets start with the word advice. Oxford Languages defines it as guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as a suggestion about what someone should do or how they should act. That doesn’t seem too ominous. Then there is the word unsolicited. Merriam-Webster defines unsolicited as not asked for or requested. This is where the problem lies. You were not asked for it. As a result, it then runs the risk of triggering defensiveness in the receiver of that advice.

I know that watching someone struggle is difficult. That is particularly true if you believe that you have the answer to their problem. If you are really honest, how often do you welcome unsolicited advice? If it is task-based or work-related it can be helpful in some situations, but you also run the danger of conveying that you don’t believe the other person is capable of figuring things out.

conversation without unsolicited advice

Perhaps a better approach is to just say something general about your willingness to help if the other person needs it. Then, you can expect that they will ask if they are uncertain or unsure of something. If it isn’t procedural, and is in the realm of opinion, sharing is even less desirable. If someone wants to know your thoughts and opinions they will ask.


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