Tag Archives: people pleasing

What To Do When Someone Gives You Unsolicited Advice

Unsolicited Advice: We’ve all received it at some point in our lives and we’ve all given it as well. In some few cases, if we didn’t know enough about the circumstance to ask for advice then we are appreciative if someone tells us – but those moments are few and far between.

The majority of the time we feel that the other person is trying to take our own power away. We feel as if they belief that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves and knowing what we need. The advice gives us a feel that we have some of our own freedom and autonomy taken away. As a result, we get angry, we get frustrated, we think thoughts like “What gives this person the right to tell me what to do? They don’t even know what’s REALLY going on!”

Though these thoughts and emotions are very much so real and should be acknowledged, its not like we want explode all of those raw feelings out to the other person. The trick is in making our feelings known through a boundary, while also doing it in a respectful manner so the other person doesn’t immediately feel attacked.

The way we respond can vary greatly depending on the context: who the person is, what they are giving advice on, the nature of your relationship with them, and so on. However, there are some statements that can work pretty universally. Here are some examples

– I appreciate your concern, but I don’t need your advice.

– Sorry, but I don’t need advice with this right now.

– I know that you care, but all I need right now is a listening ear – not advice.

– I know you are concerned about me in this situation, but I do not feel that your advice is helpful right now. I’d really appreciate it if you would just listen

– I know you’re trying to help, but I don’t feel that I need advice right now. I’d appreciate it if you’d just accept it and let me learn on my own. I will ask you for advice when and if I feel that I need it.

Though you can use these exact statements, you can also create your own based on the guidelines of the statements I’ve listed above. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Acknowledge the other person’s feelings.

By acknowledging the other person’s point of view, it helps to “cushion” things a bit so that they are more willing and open to hear what you have to say. If we don’t do this, the other person is much more likely to get defensive and not hear you.

State your feelings.

Please make a special note with this that I said your feelings rather than thoughts. I feel that this is key. If we say things like “I don’t like your advice” then that’s a thought that we have. If we shift it around and say “I feel that I don’t need advice right now” it becomes much less attacking. In some rare cases of more intimate relationships, we may be able to go so far as to say something like “Your advice makes me feel like I’m not competent in taking care of myself”. This is MUCH more vulnerable (both for you and the relationship in general), so I wouldn’t encourage to jump into that right away. However, I do feel that it is something worth striving for relationships – especially the ones that are more intimate by nature, like with a partner or family member.

Say what you want instead.

This can be optional, but in doing so it helps to lighten the load quite a bit. If a person is giving you advice, then obviously its because on some level they really care and want you to be okay and do well. If you tell them what you would like for them to do INSTEAD, it gives them the opportunity to still be helpful. It also helps to clear out any confusion that they might have.  Stating what you want instead also HELPS YOU because it encourages you to stand in your own personal empowerment. Doing so encourages you to really fully take charge by knowing and saying exactly what you want.

Overall, when it comes to figuring out how to set a boundary and make you feelings known with someone who has given you unsolicited advice, ask yourself: “How would I feel if someone said this to me?”

This method isn’t “bullet proof” because we are all very different in our preferences. We can also be skewed in our honest opinion of how we would react if someone told that to us because we are more focus on our own aggravated feelings right now. Yet, sometimes doing the whole “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” can help us figure out the best way to word things because it encourages us to step out of ourselves and look at it from an outside perspective.

Finally, pick your battles. If you feel that some unsolicited advice has really aggravated you, then say something. ESPECIALLY if the relationships is very important to you. The reason I say this is because if we don’t say it it becomes repressed and those angry feelings may come out in some other way in the relationship down the road. By sharing what you genuinely feel and want, it helps to “clear the slate”.

Unsolicited Advice

Click to Tweet: It’s better to let your thoughts and feelings be out in the open rather than to hold on to them and have a “blow up” later. @jenilyn8705.

If the relationship is not necessarily a close one, then really check in on how you feel. It may actually be EASIER or a good way to “practice” if it is someone you don’t know very well. Yet, if you know the person may have some toxic behavior patterns and doing so may cause you too much stress, then you may want to hold off. Ultimately, it’s up to you and how you feel. Just remember to be mindful.

Set your boundaries today!

Think of a time when someone has given you unsolicited advice.  Imagine the situation replaying in your head.   FULLY imagine it — make it as real as possible.  Now imagine what you could have done differently that would’ve worked.  What could you have said or how could you have responded to make this person understand how you feel and what you’d like from this person instead without hurting them.  It may take a few tries to fully get an idea.

What did you come up with?  What could you have said differently?  Share below!

The Extremely Awkward Situation I Caused Myself Due to People Pleasing

A few months ago I made a new friend. We met at this community get-together and we had a few interests in common. I felt happy to be making some new connections in the area. We made plans to go hang out. We debated to ride our bikes around or just get some coffee at the local Starbucks. Eventually we decided to on see a movie and get a bite to eat. Just a simple friendly Friday-night hangout… or at least that’s what I thought.

It was within the first 5 minutes of walking into the movie theater that I came to the awkward realization of “Oh wait… he doesn’t think this is a just a friendly hangout like I thought… he thinks its a… date”.

Very awkward situation – and I had NEVER found myself in this situation before. I was petrified, nervous and really didn’t want to deal with a confrontation right smack dab in the middle of his perceived date. So what did I do? I did the very thing that I’m best at… being a people pleaser. I focused on keeping him comfortable despite my extreme uncomfortableness.

Now, when I say “people pleaser” here I don’t mean that I went along with this and pretended it was a date too. Oh no no! I set my boundaries, but I did try to avoid the confrontation that could potentially lead to a very awkward situation, which would result in hurting his feelings or embarrassing the hell out of him. I filtered my words in order to avoid mentioning “boyfriend” when at all possible at this point… all the while trying to remember if I did mention “boyfriend” at all in our first meeting and then asking myself over and over again if why I didn’t say that word in EVERY sentence I spoke to this guy from the very moment I met him. And then recreating what tI should have said in that first meeting so I wasn’t stuck in this god-awful situation. It was something like:

“Where are you originally from?”

“The Midwest. I HAVE A BOYFRIEND.”

“How long have you been coming here?”

“I HAVE A BOYFRIEND. It’s only my second visit. BOYFRIEND! DID YOU HEAR THAT?!”

Maybe they should just make t-shirts for women to wear who are already in a relationship, I thought to myself. Then we never EVER have the possibility of this happening (cause, trust me, I really hope NO other woman finds herself in this situation).

I implied buying my own dinner, though he didn’t seem to get the hint or notice my extreme awkwardness about the whole thing. I ended up letting him pay for my dinner at the time to avoid the awkward confrontation I could see it would cause. And, though it confused him, I was sure to make it known that I was NOT interested in any of his advances.

Most. Awkward. Situation. Ever.

Eventually, even though I dreaded the thought of doing it, I build up enough guts to tell him. It didn’t go as well as I hoped, but, realistically, could that have turned out well?

Needless to say, I spent the next day beating myself up over it. Feeling bad for hurting him, his reaction when he did find out, and over-thinking how I should’ve did things differently when we first met.

I was really stuck on all those bad feelings, so I took a little break and began to write down a prayer on a piece of paper. The prayer was to help me release all of the feelings from this situation and to heal. As I was writing the full reality of the situation hit me:  When you’re people-pleasing, you are not really “pleasing” anyone — you’re just making a mess of things.  In every moment, just be honest.

people pleasing

I realized that in this situation, if I actually told him the very second I recognized that he perceived our hangout to be a date, then the whole situation would’ve turned out so much better. It was simply because I waited it out due to fear of embarrassment (both mine and his) that the end result became as bad as it did. If I said something right away it would’ve been easily forgotten and things would’ve carried on smoothly.

This same idea can be applied in many situations, such as:

  • Avoiding to ask a friend you drive with to class if she could split the cost of gas with you because you feel bad asking for money.

  • Being annoyed with your roommate because she is cleaning the kitchen after 5 PM and now you have no room to cook yourself dinner. Yet, you avoid telling her your feelings because you don’t want to hurt her feelings.

  • Telling your boyfriend that you will go out tonight with him even though you’re tired and you have a lot of work to do.

Every time we avoid expressing our authentic thoughts and feelings it doesn’t mean that our own half of the equation has just “disappeared”. It’s still there. It’s just that now it’s hidden, repressed, and chances are it’s still going to come out one way or another. Either by the person finding out or just making ourselves miserable.

So next time you find yourself avoiding to tell someone your truth in hopes to please them, keep in mind that you’re actually not pleasing anyone by not saying it. The only TRUE way to “please” is to be honest.

And, hopefully, that can help us to not only diminish the severity of conflict, but also help us avoid some pretty awkward situations.

Stop people pleasing and start being more authentic today!

How has people pleasing hurt you and your relationships? Has there been any awkward situations you’ve put yourself in all because you’ve wanted to “please” someone else? What can you tell someone today in order to truly “please” you and others?