Over the eight years we’ve been line dancing, strangers, students, and other line dance instructors have offered tons of feedback on how 410 Line Dancers should operate. They have also provided feedback on thinks like; how to dance, what to teach, where to teach, how to teach, how to act, what to wear, what events to attend, how to hold class, whom to celebrate, whom should be in (or out of) our group, who should perform during our performances, how to behave when I attend those events, what to post, how much to post, when to go live, when not to go live, what to say, what to do and more. None of the advice or feedback offered has been solicited (or in many cases even wanted).
When I receive unsolicited advice, especially if it’s from someone I don’t really know well or have an established relationship with, I gracefully tell them, “If 410 Line Dancers is going to fail, it will fail doing things MY way. I won’t fail doing it someone else’s’ way.” People understand that conceptually, but continue interjecting if they are committed.
I have found that there are two motives people offer unsolicited advice; helpful and harmful. According to Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D, there are helpful and less helpful motives for unsolicited advice.
Often, people offer advice simply because they think they can help, and they want to make our life easier. Their motives are altruistic. Perhaps there’s something they think would work perfectly with our situation or personality, especially if I am talking to them about a problem.
Sometimes, unsolicited advice comes from those who have found something that works for them, and they want to share it with the world. They see our situation as a perfect fit for this piece of wisdom that’s made a positive impact on their life. They may share because they wish someone had told them about it sooner.
Less - Helpful Motives
Some people—particularly those with narcissistic tendencies—need to be in the role of "teacher" virtually all of the time. Or perhaps they just like to hear themselves pontificate.
People may give unsolicited advice as a way to change you or our behaviors. This advice can often feel like an insult more than a genuine attempt to help. Remember, a true friend wants to help you be the best you can be, but they also love you, flaws and all. Too often, I have seen line dancing “advice” laced with judgment.
Remember, it’s disrespectful and presumptive to insert your opinions and ideas when they may not be wanted. Unsolicited advice can even communicate an air of superiority; it assumes the advice-giver knows what’s right or best.
Stop fixing and start listening
If you truly have altruistic intentions, instead of telling people how to live their life, ask them how you can help. A simple “What can I do?” or “How can I help?” allows people to feel safe and empowered to respectfully accept or reject the offer. Don’t just roll up and dump your analysis in someone’s lap. Often times, the recipient will take it as criticism. Also, accept that you don’t know the full story and you don’t have control over someone else’s life/group/business. People have the power to make decisions, which won’t always align with your values or lifestyle, but you’re not living that person’s life.
To read more about types of unsolicited advice, please see reference below.