We’ve all been in a situation before when someone we know offers up unwanted advice; especially someone close to us like a friend or relative. Whether it’s about your career plans, who, when and if you chose to date, have children, or any other detail about your life, it can sometimes seem that everyone has an expectation for you and what you should be doing.
This can create a sense of criticism, pressure, and even feelings of anxiety, disappointment, shame, or discouragement. It can also create tension and distance within the relationship if advice becomes too pushy.
So how do you handle it respectfully without harming the relationship? Here are a few things to consider.
1. First make a note that the person’s message is coming from a place of care.
While it may seem like direct criticism, know that whoever is offering up suggestions likely cares about you a great deal and wants the best for you. Whatever “the best” for you though, is up to you to define.
2. Check in with your own feelings and plans.
Whatever is being the target of attention, consider where you stand on the subject and clarify for yourself what you want, but know you can keep this information to yourself. Simply because others want one thing for you, doesn’t mean you have to want the same things. You have all the right to choose your own path.
3. Identify feelings and be direct.
If you’re feeling like their suggestions are judgmental or hurtful, let them know nicely. You can tell them that their comments give you unwanted pressure or that you feel the person is putting expectations and conditions on you or your relationship. It also may be a good opportunity to recognize their care for you while explaining what your experience of their advice is like. Such as, “I know you want me to be happy, but when you ask why I’m single, it feels like my worth is dependent upon whether or not I’m in a relationship.”
4. Ask for privacy.
Your business is yours to share, so let them know you don’t want to talk about the subject. Include that you recognize that they want the best for you, but their advice puts unwanted pressure on you. Let them know that your choices are yours to make and that you would like privacy on the matter. If you want their help, you can tell them that you will go to them for someone to listen or to share ideas.
5. Ask for support.
Just like asking for privacy, let your friend or loved one know how they can support you on the subject. It it’s simply asking for privacy, that can be a way to be supportive. If you’d like them to understand your situation better, ask them to listen and express that you do not want feedback. This can help you maintain and reestablish trust, respect and bonding with one another.
So next time you find yourself feeling interrogated, take a moment to recognize what’s happening and speak up for what you need.
“The more you love your decisions the less you need others to love them.” – uknown