Handling Unsolicited Advice

I am pretty sure that for the average individual, advice which is given is more often than not unsolicited. There are some rare chances that such advice is actually useful but I strongly believe that the probability of it being anachronistic, incongruous or irrelevant is always high. There must also exist a strong cultural trait to receiving and giving unsolicited advice but I am pretty sure that the Average Indian never hesitates to be at the giving end. An easy response could be to either ignore or dismiss the person or the advice but some value could still be extracted.

Below, in my opinion are some ways to use unsolicited advice.

1. Ask the person who is providing such advice, what their understanding of the context/situation is and the task that needs to be done.

2. Understand their level of expertise on the topic. Here, it is very useful to understand the Dunning Kruger effect, which mentions that people’s confidence level on any topic skyrockets when they come to understand a little bit and then plummets down.

3. Understand the biases under which they might possibly operate. More on this in my previous post

4. If the advice is (rarely) spot on, acknowledge and move ahead !

5. Otherwise, explain to the person what the difference in understanding of the context is to see if a reframing is essential

6. If the person is keen to ensure that her/his advice is adhered to, an easy way to wriggle out of the situation is to mention that you have received multiple conflicting opinions and will take time to evaluate all of them.

7. If the advice is malicious, it is better to ignore and feign indifference. However, if it becomes even more extreme to the point of slander, suitable forms of confrontation are necessary.

Unsolicited advice is inevitable but it need not necessarily be inconsequential !


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