The Knack of Giving Good Advice
“Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most like it the least.” —Philip Dormer Stanhope, British statesman
You may have really good advice to give to Joe, but if it’s delivered the wrong way (“Joe, I know you’re having difficulty with Mary, but honestly, you should keep your ignorant mouth shut.”), Joe will understandably resent your interference. On the flipside, you could masterfully deliver terrible advice that leads to tragedy, like the invasion of Iraq based on weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Advice is much easier to give when someone asks for it, and it’s a privilege to be asked. Tread carefully when giving unsolicited advice.
Good advice stays on topic. You don’t want to advise someone to deal with a confrontational co-worker by showing him how to fix his golf swing. Showing is always preferable to telling. A good story, especially one that evokes a vivid analogy that the individual can follow with his own five senses, will remain with him longer than any lecture will. One of my managers once asked me how to prevent her co-workers from passing their problems off to her. I used the “monkey on the back” analogy—“The monkey is their problem and responsibility, not yours,” I told her. “Look for the monkey when they come to see you,” I said. “When they try to put it on your back, put it right back on theirs and send them on their way.”
Keep your advice brief and simple. If someone asks you how to be more comfortable giving a speech, explain what you do, but don’t start pontificating like Donald Trump. To find out if he’s receptive to what you’ve said, say something like, “Do you feel this has been helpful? Is it perfectly clear? How will you put it into practice?”
Be confident in what you say. Otherwise you shouldn’t be giving advice. But don’t be arrogant or authoritarian. You want to be authoritative but unpretentiously. Phrases like “You might try this…” work better than “Don’t do that…” Allow for rejection. If someone doesn’t want your advice, don’t take it personally. Being defensive or critical can lead to confrontation, and probably to an even stronger rejection of your advice.
If someone takes your advice, follow up. It will show that you care. You might even learn something from the experience.
Ken Tasch is the inventor of the LAUNCH® Selling and Business Capture System: a simple and easy way to significantly increase the odds of winning new business.
I retired from over 40 years of starting my own businesses and managing businesses for corporations. My goal now is to help others succeed and grow to be everything they want to be; to give back and share my life experience.