Who likes unsolicited advice? No one I know, including me. Whether from my mother, my husband, or a random stranger, unsolicited advice is only good when someone suggests the very thing I was already planning to do. Then I can say, “What a great idea. I was thinking the same thing.” Everyone walks away happy.
It’s the random bits of advice that leave me flummoxed. I’ve found it’s best to simply smile and nod in a very neutral way. This response acknowledges that you heard the person without giving an actual answer. If the person keeps prattling on about their pearls of wisdom, I merely say, “I’ll have to give that some thought.” The advice giver can be on their way, believing that I’ll honestly give their suggestion a few minutes of my time, while I can go about my business already having forgotten what they said.
On the flip side, I give much less advice than I used to. When I was younger and a friend came to me with a problem, I’d offer up multiple suggestions on how to fix it. After a few years, though, I realized that my friends were really just venting and looking for an ear to bend. I mean, why would they like advice any more than I do? Now, I merely nod sagely and pass judgment in my mind, hoping my expression betrays nothing.
On rare occasions, someone will utter that famous line, “What would you do?” With some level of trepidation, I’ll think about the issue, weigh the pros and cons, and then make a suggestion. The other person will immediately list ten reasons why I’m absolutely dead wrong, thus confirming my belief that I should have kept my mouth shut.
And really, that’s the best plan when you have the urge to offer up advice, solicited or otherwise. Play it safe and just keep your mouth shut.