Happy November! This is by far my favorite time of the year. In fact, my husband and I love this time of year so much he actually proposed around this time! The following months were filled with holiday parties and engagement celebrations. At the time, I was absolutely thrilled to share our love, joy, and excitement with our family and friends! What I was completely unprepared for was the overwhelming amount of advice, ideas, suggestions, and cautionary tales sent our way.
For example, the very night he proposed, two people expressed their congratulations and then immediately shared engagement horror stories. (Thank you…?) Over the next few weeks I also received lots of unsolicited advice about the type of dress I should wear, the guest list, the music, the food, etc.
If you have an event coming up and are worried about encountering a similar situation, keep reading! I wish I had the following list of tips for handling unsolicited advice during our engagement (rather than relying on my deer-in-headlights face). These tips are useful for those moments that you want to avoid escalating situations and let things roll off your back.
- Plan your responses in advance.
This is the most important piece! Before you attend the event, spend some time thinking about what exactly you want to avoid discussing, and prepare your responses ahead of time. This way, if someone invites you into a conversation you would rather avoid, you have a response locked, loaded, and ready to go. The better prepared you are, the less likely it is that you will feel caught off guard.
- Acknowledge what the other person said.
As tempting as it may be to run and hide in a corner, or on the other end of the spectrum, to “shut them down”, remember you are trying to avoid escalating the situation. Take a deep breath, look them in the eye, and kindly acknowledge what they said. Even something as simple as “What an interesting idea!” will suffice.
- Validate their intent.
Most often, when people are offering unsolicited advice, or asking boundary-pushing questions, they really do have good intentions. They care about you, they’re genuinely interested, and they want to be helpful. Usually they don’t even realize that they’re making you uncomfortable! Look past their words, and validate their intent. “What a good point, and thank you for sharing your ideas with me!”
- Redirect the conversation.
At your first opportunity, steer the conversation in another direction. Trust me – the sooner you redirect the conversation, the smoother it will be. “What an interesting idea! Oh I meant to ask you, how did your daughter’s basketball game go?”
Please note that this content is for informational purposes, and not a substitute for treatment. If you are in need of mental health treatment, please seek out a provider in your area.