Sometimes we want advice from our colleagues. Other times, we desperately want them to stop talking, leave us alone, and trust us to handle things on our own.
We can dream that this will come true and we’ll be able to bask in our quiet solitude. But in reality, we’re more likely faced with someone who doles out suggestions left and right, distracting us from our work and making us feel like we have multiple managers (and isn’t one boss enough?).
Of course, most co-workers who give out unsolicited advice usually mean well. Maybe they’ve seen something work before, or their job is on the line, too—regardless, they probably just want to help.
So, yelling at them to shut up probably won’t do you any favors, nor will ignoring the situation. Instead, try these four phrases on for size:
1. “Thanks for the Advice, I’ll Consider it as Soon as I Finish [Project]”
If your rambling co-worker is taking up an excessive amount of your time and not offering anything helpful, try using this to show them you appreciate their thought but need to focus on your work.
Hopefully, they’ll get the hint, see that you’re busy, and leave you be (sliding your chair toward your desk, turning to face your computer, or any other sign of you no longer paying attention does the trick, too).
2. “I Appreciate the Feedback, But We’ve Actually Found From [Users/Clients/the Rest of the Team] That…”
It’s OK to not agree with someone’s opinions. However, if you tell them you don’t agree because their idea is stupid, that just shows you’re insensitive.
So instead, focus on the bigger picture and why their advice wouldn’t work for your situation. Maybe you’ve tried it before and it didn’t perform great with your users, or your team knows that a certain strategy doesn’t fit with your goals. Use data, previous experience, and history to guide your rejection, and you’ll both avoid offending the person and give them valuable context for their future suggestions.
3. “I Understand That Worked for You, But I’m Not Comfortable Doing [Advice]”
It’s also totally acceptable to reject advice that makes you feel uncomfortable. Your co-worker isn’t shooting out ideas just to put you in a bad place—they most likely genuinely care about you and your success.
Only incredibly horrible people will push you to do something you don’t want to do (and to those people, I tell you to ignore them or say a flat out “no”). By telling someone what you are and aren’t OK with doing, you not only shut them up, but encourage them to give you different—and more appropriate—kind of feedback down the road.
4. “I Respect Your Opinion and Appreciate Your Thoughts, However I Already Have a Plan to…”
You’re always welcome to give the person a solid “no thanks,” but I also know how awkward it can be to shut someone down completely (especially someone you like).
Which is why this is a great alternative because it shows the reason why you’re rejecting them—because you either already have an idea in place or you’ve already hashed out the details.
Sure, you may not actually have a plan, but even just showing that you’re already taking steps toward another direction makes it impossible for you to follow their advice.
Your co-workers may act like know-it-alls, but that doesn’t mean you have to stand there and take it for hours on end. When you find that all the unsolicited advice is distracting, demotivating, or even rude, use these phrases to get your colleagues to respect your space and get yourself back to work.