Tag Archives: unsolicited advice

How to Maintain Proper Boundaries When it Comes to Advice

Last Monday, I posted an article What To Do When Someone Gives You Unsolicited Advice, where I gave guidelines and examples of how to respond when someone is giving you advice that you just don’t want.

This week I’m turning the tables a little bit. Rather than focus on how to respond when someone advises you when you really don’t want it, we are going to focus on how to establish boundaries in a way so we can be sure that we are not the ones giving unwanted advice.

In my experience, this is a much more difficult feat to accomplish because it really challenges us to see the not-so-great aspects of ourselves. Yet, the irony is that if we don’t like it when OTHERS do it to us then its very likely that we ourselves do it to others. It’s how what Swiss psychologist Carl Jung referred to as the shadow: simply, the not-so-great parts of ourselves that we are not always aware of.


That’s Tweetable!  Click to Tweet: When we ask if people want advice before giving it we respect the person’s boundaries. And so, they will respect US more. @jenilyn8705

That all being said, what guidelines can we give to ourselves to be sure that we don’t give unsolicited advice and end up ticking someone else off? Here’s a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Don’t give advice unless the person asks for it.

If the person didn’t directly say something like “What do you think I should do about this?” then don’t give them advice. It may feel very strange at first especially if you’re one who tends to be an advice-giver (like me!), but in doing so it really helps the other person stand more in their own personal power. It encourages them to take responsibility for their lives and know exactly what they want and how to ask people for it rather than blame others.

Though many of us don’t fully embody the concept, most of us simply just want a listening ear and emotional support rather than advice. Focus all your energy on holding that safe supportive space for them and then it’ll be a bit easier to fall out of the advice-giving habit.

If you get the sense that someone is wanting advice but they are not asking for it, then ask them.

If the person is off venting away and you seem to start getting a vibe that they want some sort of feedback or guidance of some sort then ask them something like “What are you wanting from me right now?”or “Would you like some advice?” This puts the power back in their court. They now have to take personal responsibility to know exactly what they are looking for, which prevents them from really placing the blame on others.

If the person has some codependent tendencies, then this will be difficult for them. It will take time for them to really get used to really “taking the drivers seat” so to speak, so be patient and give them time to really answer.

If you do give advice, ask for feedback.

If it does come to a point in the discussion where you do give advice, then ask them if it was helpful. Ask them how they feel now. Does it feel like it was right on or was something “off”? Be willing and open to hear what they have to say no matter what – good or bad.

All of these tips here are a way to help you encourage the other person to fully focus on themselves and take responsibility. This reduces the chances of the person getting offended or aggravated.

These guidelines also encourage you to really take full responsibility and be strong enough to really be willing to hear what others have to say – good or bad.

Overall, this is very difficult and can take years to really get used to it. Be patient with yourself and remember that practice makes perfect! So the more you do it, the better!

Set proper boundaries with your advice-giving today!

Think of a time recently where you gave advice to someone who didn’t really ask for it. Imagine how you could have acted differently. What could you have said or asked this person? How could you have better supported them?

Share your thoughts below!

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!