How to Give Unsolicited Advice without Offending Someone

Advice is easy to come by, but it can be misconstrued as criticism when it's unsolicited. When you feel the urge to give advice, remember these tips so as to avoid being an overbearing know-it-all and offending the very person you're trying to help.


Up next in How to Improve Your Communication Skills (68 videos)

Whether you're dealing with friends, family, a lover, or co-workers, you'll benefit from the communication skills taught in this Howcast video series. Among the advice included: how to tell someone off; how to deliver an ultimatum; how to complain; how to solve creative differences; how to give a compliment; how to take criticism; how to apologize; how to read social cues; how to learn to say no; and much more.


You Will Need

  • Nonjudgmental ear
  • Proper questions
  • Personal experience
  • Carefully chosen words
  • Empathy


  1. Step 1

    Let them vent

    Listen with a nonjudgmental ear -- let the other person vent. Allow them to simply think out loud and air their feelings. But listen closely to what they're saying. Nod your head to let them know they're being heard.

  2. A good rule of thumb is to give suggestions when they are specifically requested. Try to refrain from speaking until someone asks for your opinion.

  3. Step 2

    Ask questions

    Ask questions about what they're saying or describing. That way you'll get a better understanding of the issue at hand and what's distressing them.

  4. If you do offend someone with your suggestions, make sure to smooth things over quickly. Calmly explain that the advice was strictly your opinion.

  5. Step 3

    Use your own experiences

    Offer your own experience to give insight into the topic at hand and avoid going off on a tangent, which could lead to diverging opinions and hurt feelings.

  6. Step 4

    Choose your words carefully

    Choose your words carefully when giving unsolicited advice. Others may not agree with what you're saying, but it's easier to accept when presented in a neutral manner and friendly tone.

  7. Step 5

    Be empathetic

    Be empathetic. Imagine yourself in the other person's shoes, and try not to judge them, especially if they don't heed your advice. Remember, there are many solutions to a problem.

  8. The first "Dear Abby" advice column debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1956.