Coworker from Hell: The Unwanted Advisor


Rachel from Sydney wrote,

“So I have this coworker, Bob. He’s a really nice guy, but he always seems compelled to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong, and give me advice on everything from my personal life to my business affairs. I don’t want to be rude to him, but he’s driving me crazy. What do I do?”

There are unwanted advisors in every workplace. Sometimes they’re well-intentioned people who genuinely want to help. Occasionally they’re individuals who are just trying to impress you with their knowledge. Many just think of these interactions as a great conversation starter. The one thing they all have in common is that none realize how annoying they can be.

There really is no simple way to talk to your unwanted advisor about his (her) behavior, without becoming confrontational. You’re better off in this case using strategies that minimize his inclination to dispense his wisdom. Here are a few things you can do:

1. Acknowledge the things he says with a ‘thank you’ but don’t debate with him or engage him in a conversation

2. Use questions to redirect the conversation, e.g. “Thanks Bob. Hey, how’s that new intern working out?”

3. Give vague answers to questions. So, when Bob says, “So, have you thought about doing x, y or z on your you can respond by saying, “Yeah, there are a lot of considerations…” Follow this with a question to conversation.

4. Avoid discussing your work when he’s around.

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