How To Give Helpful Advice HelpfullyA couple of months ago, I adopted a shih tzu from the local humane society. While I had wanted a dog for pretty much my entire life, I’d never had one and certainly had never taken care of one by myself. I was a little like a new mom. OK, I was a lot like a new mom. “Is that noise normal? How much food does he need? Oh my GOSH he didn’t go potty when I thought he would…is he dying!?” People were very willing to offer their advice, which they dispensed with and believed passionately. Some people, however, while they spoke with the best of intentions, scared me even more. “You’re feeding your dog THAT food? Oh my…” “You didn’t do that for your dog? Well, he’s probably going to spontaneously combust.” I knew that they were trying to help so I couldn’t really get mad, but it was a little frustrating. Scare tactics when you are already feeling a little precarious just don’t seem to play well.
It seems to me that we have this same kind of communication problem in the business world. Consultants give company owners/entrepreneurs lots of advice, and in turn company owners communicate what are intended to be helpful tips to their employees. Employees and owners give each other advice. Indeed, advice these days seems pretty easy to find. Is it always received the way it was intended, though? Here are some (hopefully) helpful tips for offering helpful tips.
1. Be very careful with your tonality, both in the written word and spoken: There is an art to both giving and receiving advice. People will sometimes feel on edge when receiving advice because they will wonder if they are inferior (or if you are thinking they are). It is also very easy to adopt a superior tonality when offering someone what you hope is a helpful tip.
2. Do not assume that what worked for you will work for others: This line of thinking appears frequently online, whether it’s business advice or “life hacking.” There is an general assumption that if something worked for you or for your company or for your career, it will naturally work for everyone else. Everybody is different, however. It’s not just a cliché. Every company is different, too.
3. Do not assume your advice is desired or required: A lot of people, when they perceive that someone is struggling, are naturally inclined to reach out and lend a helpful hand. Very seldom is the question asked, “Do they actually want or need my help?” Indeed, the person we think is struggling may feel like they are knocking it out of the ballpark. It is always a good idea to start the conversation with, “Can I offer you some advice?”
4. Don’t assume your advice will be followed: The best you can really hope for when you offer advice is a receptive audience. That does not mean your advice will be followed to the letter or even at all. Offering advice is a little like blowing on a dandelion. Some of those seeds may take root, but a lot of others will just float on the wind. Once you have offered your opinion, let it go.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where offering what you thought was helpful advice backfired? How did it happen? We’d love to hear from you!
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/champi/1872451736/ via Creative Commons
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How To Give Helpful Advice Helpfully
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