Unsolicited Advice – understanding it, responding to it, giving it, dealing with it – Episode 81

Photo: Close up of gesturing hands, palms facing upwards, fingers slightly bent. Like the person is speaking and explaining something. Text: The Feel Good Factor Podcast, episode 81. Unsolicited Advice – understanding it, responding to it, giving it, dealing with it

A couple of weeks ago after I’d published an episode about how to handle unwanted advice as a conscious entrepreneur, I was asked how one should deal with unsolicited advice in general. Not just as a business owner.

So here’s the episode where I share my perspectives on free, uninvited advice. How to deal with it, and what we can actually take away from it. I talk about:

  • How to decide if the advice needs to be rejected in the first place
  • Understanding where the advice giver is coming from
  • Different types of responses to match their level of persistence
  • The important hidden lesson when someone’s behaviour annoys you
  • What an automatic advice giver could be doing instead
  • And more…

I have to warn you, I’ve broken out in giggles a LOT through this episode!

Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast platform. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂

“Here’s the thing, when you show confidence in your choices, and when you’re very clear and sure about this is what you want out of life, this is the way I’ve chosen to live, when you’re very clear about those choices, then that confidence kind of gets infused into the situation.”

Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast

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Transcript of Unsolicited Advice – understanding it, responding to it, giving it, dealing with it

(gently edited for a better reading experience)

Hello again, good to be back here. Last week I wound up my miniseries about keeping your customers delighted while also maintaining your own sanity and joy. It was a seven part series all about how to build really good relationships around your business, while also ensuring your peace of mind and joyfulness through the process. How you can feel good while also serving others and making them feel good.

One of those episodes dealt with handling free, unsolicited advice. When people give you business advice, “do this, try that.” When they try to force all their ideas down your throat, how do you handle them?

So I put a little clip from the episode on Instagram after I published it and shared that it’s an episode about handling unwanted advice. And as conscious entrepreneurs, how we can deal with it. So my cousin Sudeepthi sent me a DM saying…

Not just advice for entrepreneurs, how do we handle advice in general? Advice that people just shove down your throat? How do you handle that?”

So I told her, yeah, you know, when I was recording that unwanted advice episode, though I was speaking from the point of view of an entrepreneur, I was thinking, this is something that I need to expand on. And create another entire episode that focuses on advice in general. Why people give them. Why you, if you are giving advice, why you would be doing it. And how to handle it, and stuff like that.”

To give you a little bit of a background, Sudeepthi and I are second cousins. It’s not like we grew up together anything, but whenever there was a wedding or a family function or something like that, where everybody got together, all the extended relatives, ever since we were young kids, I remember Sudeepthi and I used to kind of gravitate towards each other. We’d hang out all the time chatting and somehow we had a lot to talk about. Or even more importantly, now that I think back on it, even if we weren’t talking all the time, we enjoyed each other’s company. Even in silence and it was good.

And I think when you’re in a sea of relatives, there’s regressiveness. There are people who don’t really know how to mind their own business. There’s a lot of prying, and all kinds of teasing and things like that. In the midst of such a situation, I think Sudeepthi and I, we recognised kindred spirits in each other.

More so as we grew up, when we reached our late teens or early 20s, more so. Because you know there are relatives around saying, oh when are you gonna get married?” Or whatever. Sudeepthi and I’d just exchange looks with each other and be like, “oh my god”, you know?

When she asked about how one should be dealing with unsolicited advice in general, I could immediately think of a bunch of people who I know, who she knows, and who probably are the ones giving her the unsolicited advice.

I know we all have uncles, aunties, people like that in our lives who don’t really know how to maintain those boundaries.

And they feel like it doesn’t matter if they’ve seen you after five years or ten years. They’ll still come and say, oh, you should be living your life a certain way. The way I like you to be living life. And this is the way you do it.” I got to think of these people. These people that Sudeepthi and I probably share. And then create this whole episode to help everybody who has similar people in their lives.

Probably something I say my help you through a situation next time you’re faced with somebody just giving you all kinds of unwanted advice. You’ll hopefully think back on this and realise that not one, but there are two people who totally understand what you’re going through, and probably many, many more.

This is something that I’ve taken a lot of time to learn

Initially I would get very upset or irritated if somebody was just coming and giving me advice. And I wouldn’t be very nice to them about it. Or, I would be quiet and later feel really annoyed, thinking of all the ways I could have responded.

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You listen to somebody annoying, especially this happens with relatives, or sometimes even with colleagues, bosses, whoever. People who can’t… who don’t really know how to mind their business. They’re everywhere all around us.

So you probably understand what I mean when I say you are in a certain conversation, and you listen to a person speak, and then you go back home. And later that conversation lives in your head for much longer than it should, simply because you didn’t deal with that situation in a way that you should have, or that you feel you should have.

I’d like to clarify something here, personal advice, receiving or handling is very different from business advice receiving

When you’re running your own… when I say business, when I say the word entrepreneur, it applies to teachers, freelancers, anybody who’s doing their own thing. Now handling unsolicited advice at that point of time is very different because honestly, you don’t have the time to sit and listen to everybody’s stories and everybody’s advice. You need to cut it off pretty quickly and move on to something else.

But when it comes to personal advice, we can give it a little bit more leeway in terms of how we handle it. We don’t have to immediately cut it off. Or at least not in all cases.

The first thing to do is consider the source, consider the person it’s coming from

We don’t have to dismiss all advice, or reject all advice because there’s a lot of good stuff out there that can be very, very useful to you.

So who is it coming from? How much do you know or respect this person? How much do you value what they have to say? You know, these things matter. So consider this.

And of course if it’s not somebody you really respect, or it’s not even that you don’t respect them, it’s like, okay, they’re living their lives, but nothing about their lives really resonates with me.” Doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong, or you’re doing it wrong or right, or anything like that. It just means that you live life, you look at life, you handle things, from very different perspectives.

So when that is the case, then of course you don’t want to be sitting and listening to them, and listen to their side of things, or their points of view. Especially if it’s kind of shoved down your throat.

So considering the source, if it is a source you don’t want to hear the advice from, the next thing to think about, or to remember is that…

They’re probably coming from a place of love or genuine concern

Some people maybe just busy bodies. Their advice might be criticism, you know, veiled criticism, and then it’s like, “Oh, screw them!” They’re not worth your time. They have their own issues to deal with. Walk away.

But there are people who genuinely do care and they’re worried about you. And they might not have a wider perspective of the world, or they might not have the exposure that you have had in life.

So when somebody like that is advising you, it helps to remember that they are coming from a place of love. Even though they may not be right at all. Even though what they say might not be a right fit for you at all, because they’re coming from a place of love, it makes it easy for you to calmly breathe and handle that situation with a lot more kindness and love than you normally would.

Do consider that, keep in mind who the advice is coming from, and where they are coming from when they share this with you.

This one uncle who… I was still in my early twenties for goodness sake, and every time he’d visit our house, he would be like, “oh, when are you getting married? You’re getting old.”

And then he’d go and talk to my dad and advise him on how he shouldn’t be letting a daughter ‘so old’ be unmarried. Every time he would visit and leave, it would be guaranteed that I would get into a fight with my dad.

“People are saying this, so when are you gonna get married? Blah, blah. I’m going to look for a guy for you.” You know, all the arranged marriage nonsense.

So when a person like that is telling you stuff, you know, it helps to realise that they don’t have the exposure to the world that you do

They have not had the privilege of progressiveness. They haven’t had it. So from their point of view the world is, it’s that little well. Only what they know is the right way, that’s what they believe. And because of that, they think that is the only way everybody should be living.

It’s hilarious because the after I did get married, and years later, I bumped into him at a wedding. He meets me and my husband and then immediately is like, when are you having a baby?”

Of course, by then the way I handled things was very different from the way I would in my twenties when I used to feel the pressure. I used to get angry and upset with him like, “Oh my God, what’s his problem?!” But by this time, I just laughed when he said, “when are you having a baby?” And I’m like, “oh we’re happy this way.”

And then, his answer of all things was, “but we should also be happy, no?” I just started to laugh, and you know, kind of brushed it off and just change the topic.

The difference between my early twenties handling of things and now was that, by this time I had realised that, I had the privilege of knowing that, the completeness of your life isn’t dependent on having a partner or having a child. There’s a lot more to life than that. So those who chose to do so, wonderful, but also chose not to do so, excellent for them too. And I had already realised this, so I didn’t really feel any kind of pressure at that point of time.

I was very comfortable with my own choice

And because of that, it didn’t bother me as much when he said, “we should be happy too.” In fact, it was so funny, I just laughed and kind of brushed it off and I didn’t think back on it.

Well it serves as a great joke to tell people later on, right? About people’s limited way of looking at the world. One way of dealing with advice is to laugh, make a joke. Not laugh like in a cruel way, which you want to do, but just like laugh it off in a very good natured, good humoured way.

Especially if it is somebody who’s very strongly opinionated and they come to you trying to shove their thoughts, their advice down your throat.

When you laugh it off, when you brush it off, it’ll kind of throw them off

Because they’re probably people who are used to giving advice to people. If somebody so confidently comes up to you and just starts shoving advice on you without being asked for it, it means that they’re used to giving advice to people. And they’re used to being listened to most of the time probably.

So that’s why they have that confidence to come and do this, or the delusion that they can do it all the time. When you laugh it off, they’re taken aback and it kind of silences them for a bit. Then deflect, of course, you know, change the topic or make a joke.

You’ve established your boundary, but you’ve done it in a very fun or light hearted way, or at least seemingly light hearted way

That way the person probably won’t bug you anymore. And you also won’t be annoyed or thinking of that conversation later. Except in entertainment. I mean years later I’m thinking of this conversation and it’s entertaining to me still, right?

So maybe in that form, so it lightens the whole thing and makes it easier for everyone and you don’t mess up the relationship or disrespect somebody.

Just because somebody doesn’t know how to mind their own business doesn’t mean they’re a bad person

They might be a really nice person. In general, this particular uncle I’m talking about, he’s actually good company. He’s fun, he’s sweet. So he’s actually a good person, an enjoyable person to talk to. Except for the time when he’s being nosy and, you know, giving you unsolicited advice.

So you don’t want to mess up that relationship. Then you deal with it in such a way that you can deflect and joke and kind of brush it off.

Here’s the thing, when you show confidence in your choices, and when you’re very clear and sure about this is what you want out of life, this is the way I’ve chosen to live, when you’re very clear about those choices, then that confidence kind of gets infused into the situation.

When somebody is confident about what they choose, who they are, the advice givers also feel a little unsure

It’s easy to shove advice, to the point of even bullying shove advice down the throat of somebody who’s unsure about themselves. Because they are unsure and then there’s all this advice coming, and they become a little bit more unsure, right? Like, you become a bit vulnerable.

So when you ensure that you’re not as vulnerable, then the power and impact of that advice giving that they’re doing gets diffused, gets reduced. And that’s a good message for them to not mess with you, or to not be that condescending to you.

Sometimes when you’re giving advice to somebody and acting like you know what’s best for them, what you’re doing is being condescending. That condescension is something that kind of gets diffused because you’re already sure of yourself.

Another thing to do is lightly shame them

Like, “Oh, you’re full of enlightenment. Oh, you’re so full of advice. Hahaha”, you know? Kind of lightly shame them, not in a forced way, not in an angry way.

And if you are in a space, in the energy of confidence, and if you are understanding about the advice coming from a weakness on the part of the person who’s giving the advice, when you understand that you become calm. So at that point of time, you are able to control that flow of emotion. You’re able to shame them lightly.

If they’re a little too pushy, then you do that, right? First, where you’re trying to slowly say and deflect and laugh. But then if they’re still pushing, then you go a little further and you’ll be like, “Oh my God, you know everything.” Shame them a little bit and make them conscious of what they’re doing.

Advice giving, automatic advice giving is kind of a sickness too

A lot of people who give advice, they don’t realise they’re doing it, they honestly believe they’re trying to be helpful. They think they know better. They think they are helping you by doing that, improving your life by giving you that advice. And the sad part is that often people who are automatic advice givers, they link their self worth to their knowledge, to their know-it-all-ness.

That is why they’re sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. They’re trying to give advice or trying to help because they feel like that’s the only way that they have any value. And unfortunately, a lot of these people they have lots of value otherwise, but they don’t realise it. They don’t understand it and they think that their value is only in giving people advice.

They don’t realise they’re doing it, so when you lightly shame them, it kind of puts things in perspective for them. Makes them realise, Oh, that’s uncalled for, probably. I’m just giving advice. It’s unsolicited. Do I do this a lot? Oh, oh my. I wonder.” These things go into their mind and you’re actually helping them.

Of course, beyond that, if it still goes further, you can simply say, “I wasn’t asking for advice on this matter. I wasn’t looking for advice on this matter.”

Or worst case, just say, ”NOPE”, and walk away if you can do that. All of this, if you do that with a laugh, or a confident smile on your face, it’s probably going to be more effective all around.

Finally, when somebody has certain traits that annoy you, like this free advice giving, ask yourself, Do I have these traits too? Do I tend to do this sometimes?”

Because we can always see the fault in others. But there are certain things where we don’t realise that we carry the same fault too.

For me, free advice givers have been an excellent reminder, a lesson, that I shouldn’t be doing it

And believe me it’s very difficult, especially for someone who’s a teacher, coach. Those of us who live our lives actually teaching people stuff, or coaching people, and guiding people. It’s very difficult to not get into the default advice giving mode.

When something like this happens, when I meet somebody who’s just giving unasked for advice, it’s a great reminder for me. It’s like the universe telling me, Watch out. You’ve probably been doing a bit of that these days. Or you know, leaning towards that these days.” So that’s why the universe has sent you this message.

So watch out, don’t do it. You know how this person is making you feel? Like they know everything. They’re condescending, like they are second guessing your choices. Like they feel like you don’t know anything but they do. All those minor feelings…It may not be major, but even in a minor way if you’re feeling all these things, that’s the way you make people feel when you just happily give advice freely without being asked for it.

So it’s a great lesson. And feel that gratitude to these people who do this because they remind you not to be that way. It’s a great way to remember and catch yourself.

Of course, I’m sure all of you are like, all this is well and good Sus, but look at you, this whole episode is you giving us advice.” Hehe

The irony of that is not lost on me. But there’s a very big difference between recording or writing something and publishing it on your own platform. And allowing the right people to come find it. Versus you going and telling them things, or shoving something down their throats.

So if you have a tendency to be a free advice giver, automatically jump into advice mode, if you have a tendency to do that, then you are ripe to be a blogger, a podcaster

Instead of going and shoving it down the throats of people who may not want it, who may not be ready to hear it, or may not want to listen to it from you of all people… That is there, right? I mean think of other people, how you feel about them. Same way, people can feel about you too.

So instead of doing all that, start a blog, start a podcast, write your thoughts down or record them and publish them. And then the right people who your message is useful to will come. They will come, they will listen, they will feel that connection. And you have done your work. That’s how you’ve done the good work. If you feel like your self worth is connected to how much you’re helping others, then this is a great way to do it.

Of course your worth, your value is a lot more than just that

Than what you’ve achieved, than what you do to help others. Or than what advice you give others, and how you help them improve their lives. All those things. You are worth a lot more than that. You’re freaking amazing!

Explore those sides of you, all the other sides of you too. But also channel this tendency for you to share, to teach, to guide. Channel it into your own spaces by creating, writing, recording, and then putting it out there in the world for people to come and find it.

And it’s tempting, I know, when you’re face to face with a person. You share some perspective, some advice with them and you see the difference it makes, right? And it’s actually helpful to them and you get that immediate response. That’s all very tempting because of the immediate validation, the immediate response you get.

With a blog, with a podcast that may not be the case, because it’s not like social media. If you see I’m not telling you to go post on social media, I’m asking you to create your own space. And when you do that, you will not get an immediate response or validation. But that’s okay.

Always the right people will find you and when they do find you, they will reach out to you

You’ll get a message. They will contact you, they will email you, send you a DM, or subscribe to your newsletter.

Segue into my newsletter, The Feel Good Tribe, which I talk about often in my episodes. You know, if you find this information useful, then you’ll love my newsletters too. So hop on board The Feel Good Tribe. But yeah, that being said…

It’s great when people come, when they DM you of their own accord. When they share your information, share it with others of their own volition. When they want to get closer to you within your circles, whether it’s a community that you have or a newsletter like mine, you know.

If you have any of those and they’re coming and joining, that’s how you know that your message is reaching the right people. That it’s going to be valued, where it’s going to be used. So I feel like yeah, you know, advice givers, everybody should be doing this.

It just occurred to me that, that would be a great way to handle unsolicited advice too!

When somebody comes and they say, Do this, do that. Try this, try that. This is the way to live your life.” You can just smile and say, Hey, why don’t you blog about it? Or why don’t you start a podcast about it?” That would be a great way to handle it too.

I hope whatever I shared today has resonated with you. And the next time you’re in a situation where somebody’s shoving unwanted, unasked for, unsolicited advice, thoughts, opinions down your throat, I hope you think back on what I’ve shared today.

Laugh to yourself, find the entertainment fodder, as well as the lesson in it. And then be very calm as you set your boundaries, and laugh, and step away from it. Alright, that’s it for today.

Transcribed using Otter

Susmitha Veganosaurus

Shorth haired Indian lady, beaming a wide smile. Flowers in the background. Vegan business coach and chef Susmitha Veganosaurus

“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.

If my content resonates with you, join my free newsletter where I share Life and Business Tips, Vegan Hacks, Holistic Guidance, and more.

Vegan cuisine and holistic business building are my two biggest passions. If you’re looking for guidance with vegan cooking, or want to grow your conscious business with joy and fulfilment explore ways we can work togetherhere.”