In February 2009 I attended the “Mega-Book Marketing Seminar” hosted by Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of The Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Included in the deluxe seminar package that I purchased was an exclusive networking luncheon with best-selling authors, literary agents, and book editors.
One of the people sitting next to me at the luncheon was a woman from San Francisco who wrote a book about little-known successful people from the Silicon Valley. Evidently, she has been a life-long writer and considers herself an expert in this field.
My table at lunch seated eight people and gave each of us a chance to discuss our individual book projects. When it was my time to share, I started by discussing what I had already accomplished as a relationship author. In mentioning my first dating book, Men Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs To Know About Catching A Man, the woman from San Francisco said, “I don’t like that book title. It should say something about “sex” in it. I don’t see where the word “fish” has anything to do with love or dating.”
My reply to her was that the book has already been out for over 9 years, translated in 9 foreign languages, and has earned a Writer’s Digest Book Award. In my opinion, it was far too late to be thinking about changing that book title. But evidently, my words didn’t seem to sway the opinion of the writer from San Francisco.
When the luncheon was over and everyone had a chance to share, we all gathered ourselves to return back to the main ballroom to resume the seminar. As a common courtesy, I told the woman from San Francisco that I enjoyed meeting her and sharing ideas. Her reply to me went something like this: “You sound like a man who doesn’t know what he wants. You’ll never succeed in this business like that. You have to take action on your opportunities and not talk so much about it.”
Needless to say, I was quite stunned by this woman’s off-the-wall comments. But since I write an ezine about “Strategic Small Talk Tips,” I immediately began searching my mind for a proper response. Under the circumstances, I chose to say to her, “That’s interesting” which is what I do whenever I comment on ridiculous statements. But afterwards, I thought that there must be a more elegant reply when it comes specifically to handling unwanted, unsolicited advice.
After a few days of pondering this situation, I believe that the most empowering response to unwanted, unsolicited advice like I encountered at that luncheon would be to begin by saying either “You know what? That’s a good point,” “You’re probably right,” or “That’s understood.”
I would follow this remark by graciously saying, “Thank you for your honesty. I can always benefit from some unbiased feedback.”
And finally, I could take control of the conversation by adding, “And by the way, is there anyway I can help you out with feedback in return?” That question would probably catch the other person off-guard and put a quick end to the conversation.
The Bottom Line
Recognizing situations and being prepared to respond are the secrets to implementing effective communication tools. Receiving unsolicited advice can easily throw you off-balance emotionally and cause you to respond in an unresourceful manner. Effective communication is developed by mastering both the emotions and the skills in every conversation that you engage in so you can respond in the best way possible.
Steve Nakamoto is a two-time Writer’s Digest Award-Winning author, former Dale Carnegie Instructor, and trainer for motivational expert Tony Robbins. Steve has served for nearly six years as the iVillage.com Mr. Answer Man relationship expert.
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