Q: A friend gives you unsolicited advice, but you don't care for her suggestion. How do you reject the advice without seeming dismissive?
A: Make it clear that you're rejecting the advice and not the friend. There's an art to doing it in a firm, polite manner: Express that you're going to act according to your values and that the situation is something you need to think about. It's important that your next move be right for you, even if it isn't right for your friend.
You might say, "I appreciate your desire to weigh in on this, but I'm not looking for any input right now. I am going to need to take some time to think about what's best for me without the influence of other people." That should make it clear that you aren't interested in hearing advice from anyone — not just your friend.
Expressing your desire to do what's right for you isn't about insulting your friend; it's that you need to choose your own path based on your morals and circumstances.
AMY MORIN, author of "13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do"
A: If you're hoping to vent without triggering someone's advice mechanism, say, "Can I rant to you about something? I'm not looking for input, just a sympathetic sounding board." And your confidants can listen and say, "That sounds so hard!" instead of, "You should totally write him out of your will."
Remember that the advice was most likely offered in good faith. You can appreciate it even if the content didn't suit you. "Thank you so much for your input," you might say. My 16-year-old daughter often says, "I'm not going to do that. But I understand that's what you would do."
Also, keep in mind that bad advice actually can help you by reminding you what you don't want to do. Advice that rubs you the wrong way can help strengthen your own internal compass.
CATHERINE NEWMAN, etiquette expert and "Modern Manners" columnist for Real Simple magazine