How to deal with unwelcome advice

how to deal with unwelcome adviceUnwelcome advice is something we all have received in both our lives, and our businesses.

Dealing with this unwelcome advice is a challenge but it is critical to keep focused and keep moving forward.

One thing to remember, is that often unwelcome advice comes when you are doing something.

When you are doing nothing people don’t bother offering advice unless you seek it out.

As soon as my daughter was born everyone from the cashier in the supermarket to random people on the street became paediatricians and childcare experts. Offering advice I cared little for.

The same thing happened when I launched my site – I received countless emails from people offering “advice” – from people I had no clue who they were.

Here are some tips on how to deal with unwelcome advice.

1.Look at where the advice is coming from

Very often the advice is coming from 3 places; a sales pitch, from jealousy or arrogance.

  • Sales pitch – they’ve done a terrible job if you feel that the advice is unwelcome.

What to do: Delete. Or, if you have time, offer advice back candidly. (Yes, I have done that and they leave me alone).

  • Jealousy – take a look at what THEY are doing in respect to the “advice” they are offering.

Chances are they aren’t doing anything and their advice is something they need to take themselves.

For example, I had someone email me about my photos on my website saying I “could do better” and my pictures were unprofessional. Initially I was hurt and quite frankly p*ssed off – I didn’t know this person and the fact was, at the time, I couldn’t do better. By checking that person’s website I found one picture – a passport photo (and we all know just how awesome they are!)

Enough said.

What to do: Delete. Or, thank the person for taking the time to email you. Then move on.

  • Arrogance, and yes, we’ve all come across someone who will bang on about how you should run your business, you’ll need some super thick skin. They are usually someone who has incredible success (or think they have) and possess an “all knowing” air about them.

What to do: You need to just smile. If you don’t smile you’ll break things. After all, who the hell is this person who “knows your business” better than you? Do not try to enter a discussion with this person as you will drive yourself nuts. They just like the sound of their own voice and self-proclaimed genius of all things business. Let them be.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

2. Put the unwelcome advice in the place where it belongs

Unwelcome advice can make you question what you are doing. This is dangerous because we all possess enough self-doubt already.

Remember that you did not seek out this advice. That means you can choose to ignore it.

When you receive unwelcome advice you need to ask yourself if this person is in your target market.

Are they someone who would want to buy from you?

Probably not.

If they could be a client – listen.

If it’s something you might consider doing then give it a go.

What to do: If they are a peer or a potential client you may want to have a think about their advice, spend about 2 minutes doing that and then move on. However, if you view it as unwelcome advice file it carefully in the trash

3. Focus on the positive feedback and advice you get

For every piece of unwelcome advice you receive I can assure you that you are getting a LOT more welcome advice and feedback.

As solopreneurs or small business owners we tend to hear the negatives much louder than the positives.

So, we need to turn that frown upside down!

Look at all the amazing things you are doing – the people who are reaching out to say how much you rock!

Remember, receiving unwelcome advice is because you are doing something – you are sparking an emotion, a reaction and that can only be good right?

Strive to create strong emotions in others. Personally I look for LOVE and HATE – nothing in the middle.

And with such extreme emotions you receive both. It’s ok. You can’t be something to everyone.

How you play it with unwelcome advice is your call.

You can be really mature and yell “bite me!”, write a scathing blog post about them (make sure you aren’t crossing transparency lines) or you could just be polite and move on.

Focus on building and making a difference!

How do you deal with unwelcome advice?

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17 Responses to How to deal with unwelcome advice

  1. Though I like and have been tempted to use: “bite me!” more than once, I tend to let people tell me their thoughts no matter how unfounded they may be…

    Funny I’m seeing more and more passive aggressive blog post from people who were given advices that was in warranted. Seems we all need to do a better job of just telling people, thanks but no thanks.

    • Yes, telling it like it is really is important – it does take quite a bit of guts though.

      I think it’s just easier to roll your eyes and move on – it’s really distracting.

      Off to seek out the passive agressive blogs 🙂

  2. Really liked this, Ameena. Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge that even getting unwelcome advice is at least an acknowledgement of what you are doing, which is better than being ignored! Also, it is worth remembering that sometimes the advice is unwelcome because of it’s timing -in other words you just don’t want to hear it right now. But that does not stop it being valid! Would that I could always keep that in mind!!

  3. Ameena,
    Great advice. Thanks. I have been a bit of a sucker lately as I try to build my on-line presence but I have also found some real value. I agree wholeheartedly that “the proof is in the pudding” and if it’s not then walk away.

    Unsolicited advice is crap. If I ask for it, give it to me, otherwise buzz off.

    I feel that all types of criticism are relevant. We all need the “constructive criticism” type stuff because it helps you to see things from a different lens and you may learn from it. If it’s just mean, well, then like you said DELETE and move on.

    Great post. Solid actionable advice. We need more of that (especially me).

    • Thanks Ralph! Glad you found it useful – I don’t think all criticism is constructive – it’s distracting, positive criticism or not … sure, the flip side is “oh you are amazing” and that’s not helpful either … can you see I’m chasing my tail on this one?

      Ear plugs in and get to work! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the confirmation of what I was already thinking, many people are coming to me with their input on what they think I should be doing and I’m thinking I must be doing something right cause I got your attention lol. Thanks again for this post.

    • Gotta love them eh Michele? Seriously I’ve had advice from someone telling me how to use social media to market my business and they didn’t even know what anything other than facebook was. *insert eye roll* They banged on for hours about it too …

  5. Ameena,
    Great braek down of the three types of “free advice givers”
    a sales pitch, from jealousy or arrogance

    I get a lot of sales pictches and arrogance but havn’t hit the bit times and gotten jealousy advice yet. WHAA!

    On another note, Every once in a while i get someone who asks me my advice about their site usability, design, content. “i know right? ME? Weird”. So i give it to them and they argue with me. If you are going to ask for my advice and you don’t like it, at least say thank you and ignore it rather than argue with me. SHEESH!!.

    Anyways, thanks for putting this touchy topic in perspective.

    • Ha! Gotta love those people who ask for advice and then argue back. I just shrug and say “well, you asked!”

      It’s hard when you are a solopreneur to accept advice you don’t really want to hear – but as I’ve learnt over the years, listening and then making a decision later is important to make sure the advice is right (or not) for you. As I said, don’t enter into arguments or debates.

      Everyone has an opinion!

  6. Today I got a private Facebook message from a friend offering “constructive criticism” on two recent posts I wrote that were outside of my blog’s normal theme.

    I went back-and-forth trying to accept it but it really just made me mad. It was unsolicited and makes the second time they have offered criticism where it really wasn’t necessary or requested

    I loved this post because it called it for what it is: arrogance.

    Thanks for this. Helped me deal with it today.

    • I had a friend (note the word had) and she would not stop giving me unsolicited advice. I tried ignoring her. The last event was when she offered me advice over the phone “Out of the Blue” about work. The advice was not asked for. I told her, “If I need your advice I will ask.” Upon which she stated, “I am going to give you advice anyway.” I repeated I did not want advice to no avail while she kept talking ignoring my words. This was the point that I hung up the phone. Thinking the situation was going to come to a head because I always felt uneasy after any contact with her. Now I realize she was an emotional vampire and arrogant.

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