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Dealing with advice you don't want from well-meaning people

Updated on July 31, 2013
Just say no! (To free advice...)
Just say no! (To free advice...) | Source

It’s happened to everyone at least once. Someone you know (or don’t know) comes up to you and gives you some “good advice.” They may be extremely well-meaning, but the advice isn’t well received, and you really just wish they would shut up and go away. Or, even worse, someone you know very well likes to give you advice about how to “fix” all the problems in your life. What can you do?

Be grateful

Consider the reason for the advice. If it is someone who is sincerely concerned about you or cares about you, just be grateful for the advice. You can simply thank them and move on to another topic. You don’t need to tell them you’ll take their advice. You don’t need to ever intend to follow a single word of advice they give you. But if you simply thank them and keep going because the intent is pure, then you’ll be happy, and so will they.

Famous monkeys hear, speak, see no evil at Toshogu, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Famous monkeys hear, speak, see no evil at Toshogu, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. | Source

Ignore it

Here’s the best part about advice – you can ignore it! Really, you can! Just because someone tells you what you should (or could) do about a situation doesn’t mean that you have to listen to them. You can choose to acknowledge what they said and always respond with a vague, “Thank you, I’ll think about that.”

They Might Be Giants - "Your Racist Friend"

Be aggressive

While getting in someone’s face and yelling “shut up shut up shut up shut up!” isn’t really something that I would ever recommend, sometimes it’s worth it just to get that person to shut up. If someone repeatedly gives advice that you just can’t listen to anymore, or worse, if their advice is wrong or ill-informed (or racist or bigoted), sometimes you just need to be aggressive in response.

Be assertive

Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. When you’re assertive, you’re aiming for a win-win situation. Think about the problem you had and the advice you received. How can you respond to it without aggravating the other person, but, at the same time, still making sure that they stop giving you advice? The answer will vary from person to person. In some cases, it can be as simple as saying, “I really appreciate all the advice you’ve given me, but I think this is something I need to work out on my own.” That way, they know that you’re not discounting their feelings or thoughts on the subject, but you’ve also made it clear that you know that you need to consider all your options before you can make a decision. Being assertive is often the best way to go because it leaves everyone happy, or, at least, it doesn’t leave anyone unhappy.

Be passive aggressive

This is one thing I would really not recommend at all, but it is still an option. (Remember, this advice I’m giving you is free…and what do we know about free advice?) You can pretend to phase out and not hear what the other person is telling you. You can lose cell phone reception. Your internet connection can go down, closing the chat. There are plenty of ways to ignore advice, but it’s generally better to confront the situation or else it will just continue and people will begin to think you either daydream a lot or have no control over your technology.

Wise advice One of several notices in similar vein at the Laurie Arms in Haugh of Urr.
Wise advice One of several notices in similar vein at the Laurie Arms in Haugh of Urr. | Source

What to do when someone follows up

If it all comes to a head, sometimes you need to lay your cards out on the table and show the hand you were dealt. Saying, “Hey, I know you told me to do x, y, and z, but I didn’t” is okay. Maybe you will be able to explain why that advice wasn’t helpful – “If I had done x, y, and z, then do you know this horrible thing would have happened?” Or maybe it turns out that they were right. (Just because most free advice is worthless doesn’t mean it all is!) In that case, acknowledge that the advice was good, but that you were unable to follow up on it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choices.


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