What is unsolicited advice?

Simply put, it is advice we either give or receive that hasn’t actually been asked for.

Did you ask for advice?

Have you found yourself in a situation where you are with a friend or colleague having a conversation and you happen to mention an issue or a problem you might be experiencing at the time? Then, the person listening feels that they are required or need to give you their opinion, their advice on the matter yet you haven’t asked for either.

This is unsolicited advice.

This is different from sharing a problem with a friend.

Of course, there are times we want to share problems with friends, and we are keen to have their opinion and actually, their advice is something that in the past has been useful BUT this isn’t always the case. Offering or receiving unsolicited advice can cause rifts in relationships especially if it happens regularly and without being asked for.

How do you avoid giving it.
  1. Listen – is the person talking to you asking you for help or are they just needing to offload?
  2. Clarify – if you are unsure whether they want your advice, ask them? You can use phrases such as “I hear what you are saying, would you like my opinion on that?” This gives the opportunity to tell you that they just need you to listen.
  3. Listen again- if they tell you they just want you to listen, that is what they want and need you to do.
  4. Clarify again – If they do ask for your opinion/advice, check in with them that they are happy to hear your opinion even if it differs from their own. Maybe frame this by saying something like “Obviously this is just my opinion and you don’t have to take any notice of it but……..”
Receiving unsolicited advice.

If someone launches into an opinion or advice and you haven’t asked for it, the easiest option is to not take the blindest bit of notice. However, if it’s something that happens regularly and you want to stop it, be polite, explain that you really appreciate being able to offload but are happy to work through the problems yourself and weren’t seeking advice at this stage.

Choose your audience.

Perhaps the greatest learning is picking the people we offload to, some people are particularly good listeners, others not so. If you don’t want the advice, don’t offer up the problem or certainly be sure you want their opinion.