Why people give unsolicited advice

We all know someone who gives advice even when not asked.

They might not know whether you’re struggling with something. They might not know whether you are working on an issue. They might not know whether you want to hear their opinion.

They’ll talk anyway. They’ll tell you what to do anyway. They’ll shove answers right down your throat if they have to.

More often than not, these people reflect the Dunning-Kruger effectan illusion of their superiority concerning a particular issue. They are so desperate to tell you what to do they might not even listen and fully digest your problem.

Little do they know, it extremely annoys you. Maybe you’re even growing to resent them, loved one or not. And it’s understandable.

A habit of offering unsolicited advice is rude. This type of person sends signals of, “I think you have no idea what you’re doing, I’ll tell you what to do.”

And their advice may be right or wrong. It may offer a relatable perspective or not. It may be out of good intentions, or not.

But it’s mostly ineffective because it’s not permitted. It’s a violation of boundaries.

I used to get all defensive and bitter when someone gives advice I don’t ask for, especially if they’re passing judgment. But I usually felt blameworthy after. Moreover, if I didn’t follow the advice, I’d feel guilty and get overwhelmed by whether the person is right or wrong.

The above reactions are common in many humans. And they might live someone at loss, second-guessing themselves, adding error to their character every time they remember their reaction.

However, when you choose to deal with the issue with grace, you’ll find yourself more at ease. Yet it takes more than swallowing your anger.

You have to understand this person first. You have to know why they advise even when they don’t have to. And why they’ve made it a habit.

Why People Give Unsolicited Advice

Different people give unrequested advice for different reasons. A stress management coach explains it in an article, Types of Unsolicited Advice that Cause Stress and a psychiatrist confirmed the claims.

Here’s a break down of the reasons why some people regularly advice even when not asked —

They’re expressing enthusiasm for any new thing that works for them

There are people who generally like to help and if they find something that solves a certain problem, they can’t shut up about it. So if they see you dealing with the same problem, they’ll tell you what to do regardless of whether it can work for you or not.

The thing is, the world works on some logic but not everyone needs a cookie-cutter approach to a particular problem. And if that person is usually curious, the stream of answers will never end. But even worse is that their approach when giving you advice may be insensitive and piss you off.

They just wish to help you

There are some people who always wish to help anyone in any way, every chance they get. Altruism is in their nature and they expect to get nothing in return. They are simply living to help others.

Such people might also offer advice often even when not asked to. Some of our parents and siblings are like so. But too much of advice and the way one does it can be overwhelming.

Their instinct is to solve not just listen

Maybe you tell this person about all your problems. Maybe they’re your venting environment. Either way, if they wish to help you, they’ll always provide solutions — advice.

When it comes to personality, most personality tests categorize people into, listeners and advisers. The former is the best shoulder to cry on while the latter is the best when you’re talking about a problem that needs answers.

If you’re crying about a breakup, you might not need someone who tells you to restore the relationship in a certain way — at least not when you are releasing the tension. After all, sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to just stay still and listen to your emotions flow.

However, the problem is that you might not know the best person for a particular situation. Or maybe you usually find yourself going to the adviser even when you don’t need advice. Maybe the adviser is your only friend.

They desire to be needed

The need to be needed is natural but high levels that lead to dependency on the feeling are unhealthy. If one pushes to be needed, it becomes toxic.

But this is the reason some people give unsolicited advice. They crave to be needed so badly that they try to give solutions to problems all the time.

Whether they are helpful or not, this reason shows that they’re weak and need mental strength so they can live a fruitful life that makes those who truly need their help to come to them. They shouldn’t have to annoy people to feel valued or important.

They seek control

I usually experience moments like this with certain family members I really love. They’d try to change my mind when I’m making a life-changing decision, claiming that they are helping me while they just wish to control me. Not all the time of course but most of the time.

Recently, I told them that I’m moving out so I can develop on my own. One of them started saying that I should stay because freedom will ruin me. It isn’t the first time he said that and neither the first time proving him wrong. But his desire to control every aspect of his life makes him advise people all the time that everyone finds him annoying.

You might be having someone like this in your life. Someone who’s efforts to support you are often in the form of unsolicited advice. It’s more about them and less about you.

They want to feel dominant

This is a narcissistic tendency that seeks to fulfill their desire to be important and powerful. Such people always want to be the leader in any group so they can teach others what to do and how.

When such a person gives you the advice you haven’t asked for, they can go on and on about an issue, not caring about your time or the problem itself.

They are judging you and wish to change something about you

Instead of telling you that they have seen something that they wish you could change, they do it discreetly by giving you advice. However, such attempts fail since they come off as insults instead of help.

How to Deal With People Who Give Unrequested Advice

Whether the unsolicited advice is right, wrong, judgy, or respectful, you’re the one to choose how to react. And here are some tips to help you handle such situations —

Explaining how to deal with people who offer unsolicited advice
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Politely shut it down

This is a great way to help more future victims of unsolicited advice. You want them to know that you’ve listened to them but aren’t going to take their advice because you already have a plan.

Something like, “Thank you for offering an option but I’m okay with my choice.” Or “Thank you for your advice but I have a plan that works for me. I’ll ask you about it if I need your opinion in the future.”

You don’t need to apply every advice you get from everyone. And you also shouldn’t let some people establish superiority by imposing their opinions on you. If they’re wise, such polite but firm statements will make them realize their rudeness.

Indicate that you’ll consider it

If you want to avoid as much confrontation as possible, the best way to evade such an overwhelming scene is to say something non-committal like, “I’ll consider it”, or “You might be right, I’ll think about it.”

This way, you can refrain from becoming defensive even when they’re wrong. Moreover, they might actually be right and if you make a scene, you’ll feel like a fool — which dismisses their rude behavior.

You don’t want to give them the power to further annoy you so cutting the conversation short without revealing what you’re thinking can be the best move. After thinking deeply about what they said with less emotional attachment, you can choose to ignore or apply their advice.

This is the tactic I use when cornered with advice I didn’t request.

Choose to not take it personally

Since you understand why they might be giving unsolicited advice, choose to not take it personally, and explore the issue when away from that person. This will give you more perspective and time to calm down if they made you extremely angry.

Playing it cool when someone is intrusive isn’t easy. It takes practice and an open mind to do that.

You have to ensure that you don’t create drama because some of these advisors feed on that negativity. Some are narcissists who want to dominate others so you can’t give them that power.

However, others genuinely want to help you but if they give unsolicited advice often, you can mention that part about them so they can consider toning it down.

It’s about understanding others and seeking the best ways to live with them. And most importantly, you don’t have to get bitter with unsolicited advice. You can get better and help others do the same.