Nobody asked you

"Please give me unsolicited advice," said no one ever.

Happy Father’s Day to all those who celebrate!

I’m super lucky to have an awesome dad (and father-in-law and husband/father of my kids) who all embrace the concept of common sense. Sadly, it seems that not everyone does.

“What you need to do is…”

Ugh, I bristle at that phrase. My inner child wants to shout back, “Stop telling me what to do!”

Don’t get me wrong; if I’ve asked someone for their opinion, help, or feedback, I’m all ears. But if we don’t know each other, nor have you established a relationship or some modicum of trust with me, and I haven’t explicitly requested your input, I’m not open to it — would you be?

There are few things more irritating than being on the receiving end of unsolicited advice.*

Unfortunately, some people missed the memo.

I see this play out every day as pitches poorly disguised as “helpful” DMs. (Bonus awful points for those completely generic, irrelevant, cut-and-paste messages.) Or in a personalized LinkedIn connection request that’s really just someone telling someone else everything they’re doing wrong and what they should be doing instead. Or the troll who posts nasty and negative comments on other people’s content yet doesn’t have the cojones to put themselves out there and share their own.


My first thought (other than WTH!?!) is: How’s that approach working out for you? I can’t imagine that it’s bringing in new clients or establishing meaningful connections. And guess what? Common sense dictates that that’s your first (and often last and quite lingering) impression. But hey, you do you.

If you’re open to an alternative (See? I asked), I’d like to offer a suggestion: Focus on building trust first.

(BTW, my friend Dr. Brian Harman recently posted about this, and it instantly resonated with me. His whole focus is turning executives into high-trust leaders, and he is definitely worth a follow.)

Trust is closely linked to two other magical words — know and like — and when all three are embraced, they can propel your career.

We prefer first to have a sense of who we’re dealing with before partnering or doing business, tend to align ourselves with those whom we feel a certain affinity for, and value the recommendations of those we consider a friend or colleague.

Humans are curious creatures. We’re hardwired for connection, but we’ll avoid it like the plague to protect ourselves when we perceive a threat.

Even if that “threat” is an off-putting business person.

Here are a few tips on how to be intentional with your behaviors and improve the “know, like, trust” factor:

Regularly share your wisdom.

Allow people to get to know you and what matters most by sharing your insights, experiences, and lessons learned.

When communicating, keep others in mind.

Repeat after me: It’s not about you.

Talk less, listen more.

Listening improves relationships and communication and fosters collaboration.

Embrace the principles of empathy

When you put others first, you’ll better understand, serve, and communicate with them.

Be more charismatic

Charisma less to do with you and everything to do with how you make others feel.

Smile more

Research shows that it puts others at ease, draws people to you, inspires confidence and trust, and is contagious.

Be like Seth

Seth Godin says to earn attention and trust by treating people with kindness, respect, and generosity.

Look people in the eye

When you give someone your full, undivided attention, they’ll feel “seen” and validated.

Value relationships over transactions

By putting others first and adopting a service mindset, you’ll improve your communication and connection, establish trust, deepen relationships, and build business.

Of course, you can’t prevent unrequested counsel from being offered, but you can learn how to deal with it. In my latest Forbes article, I share what motivates chronic advice-givers and how to cope with being on the receiving end of that unsolicited feedback.

Shine on (but only if you really want to, my friends),


P.S. Did you know I share fresh new content (with occasional #TBT pieces) Monday-Friday across the interwebs? Get first dibs by following me on LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram, and on Forbes to get notified of my new articles. (I’m also on Clubhouse if you dig that audio-only kind of thing.)

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P.P.P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or receiving unsolicited advice, I’m a social media ghostwriter (yep, that’s a thing), helping founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.

P.P.P.P.S. One more thing: You, my friend, have great taste in newsletters—thanks for subscribing! Be sure to check out the archives to catch up on previous issues, and feel free to share this one with your friends. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe!

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*Okay, one thing, at least for me, ranks even higher on the pet peeve scale: not listening. If you ask me a question and then talk right over me as I attempt to answer you, or you’re multitasking (looking at your phone and holding a conversation with someone DO NOT MIX) while supposedly listening to me, I’ll simply stop talking. It’s very off-putting and disrespectful. Call me crazy, but when I ask someone a question like, “How are you doing?” I actually want to know the answer—and then listen while they tell me.

What are your pet peeves? Let me know in the comments.

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