How to respond to unsolicited advice in the office
At some point in your corporate life, you will inevitably stumble upon people who consider it their life’s mission to impart sage words of wisdom. Though this can be annoying, and even infuriating, it’s not unbearable if you handle it with tact and diplomacy. From fashion pointers to tips on how to handle clients, unsolicited advice can take many forms. The best way to handle the situation is in how you respond: you should be civil, but shut the conversation down. That said, when responding, you should consider their motivation; sometimes, your colleague is simply looking out for you. But other times, there might be more than meets the eye, such as jealousy or insecurity. Here’s how you keep the faux-fashion gurus, wannabe wellness coaches and aggressive salespeople at bay:
- Thanks for your advice. I’ll think about it.”
If you’re looking to remain in someone’s good books, this is a safe thing to say, even if you have absolutely no intention of doing so. While you don’t come across as committal, it conveys to the other person that you might consider it at a later date. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the person might consider their words important enough to check if you followed through or not. In the event the situation arises, you can always tell them you haven’t found enough time to do anything about it.
- “I’ve already found what I’m looking for, but thanks.”
You already have a plan carved out. For another person to come in and tell you to do otherwise, without having any contextual knowledge of the circumstances is rather infuriating. Acknowledge their advice, but make no promises of acting upon it. Say something like this to a person whose suggestion does not align with your plans, value systems or beliefs. They will feel valued for taking out the time to give you their two cents, but will think twice before pressing the topic further.
- “I’m not considering anything else at this moment.”
This is essentially the polite way to say, “shut up.” You can’t outright tell the other person that their ideas are outrageous or imbecile even if you think so, as that would be rude and reflect badly on you. While this may come across as dismissive, it does reinforce your boundaries, and the other person will know not to approach you with advice that is not welcome.
Resort to this response if someone tries to guilt you into signing up for frivolous things such as an MLM subscription or investment opportunity, which upon further examination is clearly a scam. It’s best to be honest with the other person when you’re faced with the possibility of having to fork out money for things you do not need or are simply not interested in consuming. This is the simplest way to slide out of unnecessary obligations, and will also signal that you are not to be bothered any further. You might offend them mildly, but in the long run, you will thank yourself for putting your foot down.