I think all of us could use some ways to handle unwanted advice. I have this friend who likes to tell other people how they should handle their problems. She means well and sometimes gives good advice, but she's been prone to lecture me on things I haven't asked for help with. I'm sure you have at least one person in your life who does the same thing. You love them, but you don't love their lectures. To that end, here are some ways to handle unwanted advice that I've found helpful. They might not work in all situations with all people, but they're a good start.
1. Pick Your Battles
I know this phrase has been beaten to death, but it really is one of the best ways to handle unwanted advice. Don't waste a whole lot of emotional energy on something that isn't that important to you.
2. Pick Your People
Sometimes the only way you can prevent someone from giving advice about something is not to bring it up at all. I know this seems obvious but, in my experience, this can also mean not talking about it to/around the person's spouse or loose-lipped friends either. Married people might talk about their secrets, but that doesn't mean they get to talk about yours. If you don't want someone to know about a situation she's likely to give unwanted advice about, either don't talk about it with blab-likely friends or swear them to secrecy. I've avoided quite a few “lectures” this way.
3. Deflect and Change the Subject
If you're like me and get tired of hearing your father-in-law's theories about the aliens that probe people in their sleep, stifle a laugh and change the subject. Saying, “Oh, so that's why Alec Baldwin looks pissed off all the time! I thought it was something like that.” and suggesting a “30 Rock” marathon might curb the rants for a while. For more serious issues, you can either tell them you're doing okay or that you'd rather talk about something else. Then, stick to it. Don't allow yourself to be redirected.
4. Have a “go-to” Response
One of the biggest problems I have with dealing with unwanted advice is being caught off guard and not knowing what to say. This is especially true for people like in-laws or friends who “advise” about personal or frustrating topics. If you're in the same boat, it might help to have a few responses ready when the subject comes up. Saying things like, “I'll take that under advisement” or simply, “Thanks for asking” before changing the subject, can make the person feel heard while you're actually moving them on to more comfortable topics.
5. Try Not to Argue
Don't get into an argument or feel you have to defend yourself. Someone who is intent on giving everyone advice probably won't listen and it will just make a tense situation worse. End the conversation or change the subject as soon and as tactfully as you can. If you have to, cite the “experts”-your friend might lecture *you* on what shampoos are awful, but she probably won't argue with <insert beauty magazine here>. If she does, flip forward some pages and laugh at the latest reality show blowup. There's got to be at least one.
6. If Possible, Humor Them
You know that ugly sweater your grandma gave you that you only wear when she's coming over? It's the same principle, just a different setup. If your mother-in-law thinks your son needs a blanket when he's riding in the car, let her put one on him. If he doesn't like it, he'll push it off.
7. Remember Their Motives
Sure, some people are control freaks who can't stand it when you don't bow to their superior wisdom. That happens. However, most people who give you advice are trying to help you because they care about you. They may have had experiences that they want you to have (or not have, depending). It will probably still annoy you at times, but keeping their motives in mind can go a long way.
Like I said before, we probably all have people in our lives who give us advice we don't ask for. Who is this for you? What do they usually give you unwanted advice about (clothes, parenting, health etc)? How do you handle them? Let us know.