I’m a high school senior and the holidays stress me out because of all the unsolicited advice I know I’m going to get. I’m already on my parents’ radar about my future plans but, during this time of year, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and older cousins also get into the act. What’s the best way to handle this without being disrespectful?
Trying to stay respectful
First of all, I want to affirm the fact that you understand the importance of being respectful to those who care about you and your future. A big high-five to you!
If the advice or suggestion your relative makes to you isn’t appealing, you don’t need to explain why their idea won’t work or why you don’t want to do it. Instead, take the focus off yourself and switch it to the person who is giving the advice. Be genuinely inquisitive. Say something like, “So tell me more about that? Why do you think that’s a good idea for me?”
To draw the conversation to a close you might say, “I appreciate that you want to help me be successful. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet but I’ll consider your advice and I’ll let you know what I decide.”
When you approach their advice with real curiosity, you make the advice-giver feel respected. And, you never know, as you dig deeper, you might find a useful nugget.
As you show appreciation, the advice itself becomes less important than the fact that you’re acknowledging their effort to be helpful out of their love and concern for you.
Good luck with this next phase of your life—whatever it may be.