. It happens to all of us. At the work-place, when we are in a difficult situation, our stress level increases. We feel so tense, and we don’t know what to do? Our enthusiasm wanes, and we feel the need of someone who can help us. Due to our ego levels, we don’t feel the need to seek anyone’s advice. An office colleague who gives us unsolicited advice gives us relief. But, we don’t know to what extent we should trust this unsolicited advice?
People who give unsolicited advice in organizations, do so due to following reasons;
- Genuine concern for the growth of the employees, ir-respective of hierarchy positions. So, trustworthiness of this category of people is more. They evoke trust from people to whom they give unsolicited advice.
- People at higher hierarchy levels feel that they are more powerful. They are status conscious, so they feel that giving unsolicited advice is their natural right.
At the work-place ,unsolicited advice may be primarily related to your work, but, in some cases, unsolicited advice may be related to your behavior, attitude, personal life, personal relationships, etc. When someone gives you unsolicited advice, you should;
- Accept it with an open mind. Say ‘thank you’ to your superior, or even a person who is lower to your rank.
- If the advice is related to your style of functioning, work deficiencies, etc , then you should explore the matter by asking clarifications from the person giving unsolicited advice. Listen patiently, without any ego, and with an attitude to learn.
- Develop your wisdom in such a way that you are able to assess the genuineness of the advice. In some cases, genuine unsolicited advice stems from a since desire of a person who wants you to explore your potentialities fully. See the body language of the person who is giving unsolicited advice, and judge the nature of the advice through your eye-contacts.
- Judge the merit of the advice by deeply introspecting your work contribution, and assessing your weaknesses, if any. We generally think that we are flawless in our work, and others are inferior.
- Judge the merit of the advice based on track-record of the person who is giving the advice. Does he have a credible reputation? Has he been the change-maker in the organisation? For how much time do you know the person? What is your comfort level with that person? If the person doesn’t have any reputation, his unsolicited advice should not be taken seriously.
Unsolicited genuine as well as sincere advice, given to an employee helps build up organizational trust in following ways;
- It helps in removing unnecessary ego, and paves the way for genuine dialogue.
- It helps in de-bureaucratising organizational structure, and brings in openness.
- It helps in building up trust between two people, which extends beyond organizational boundaries.
- It motivates the person who is receiving the advice, to himself seek further advice, which ultimately helps in building up his personality. Over a period of time, he will be a better performer, and self-reliant to find solutions himself. He will implement the advice in a best spirit.
Unsolicited advice, if given from a sense of arrogance, or with a false sense of power s harmful in following ways;
- The receiver simply listens to the advice. He becomes a passive listener. He does not implement the advice. He is smart enough to understand that the person giving unsolicited advice is not genuine in intentions. This destroys the trust between two persons.
- The receiver feels that the person giving unsolicited advice is forcing his views on other person. This again destroys the chances of emergence of trust in a natural way.
I am not an advocate of giving unsolicited advice in organizations. But, tendency to give unsolicited advice is more related to human psychology, which can not be curbed. It is a reality in today’s organizations, where tackling relationship management issues have become very complex. My intention through this post is to merely highlight the pros and cons of this issue, so that a clear picture emerges.