Good Advice! “Speak softly…”

Good Advice! “Speak softly…”

Giving advice is a skill. And it is vital at every level of society, at every age. A kid on the playground who tells another kid, “You’re stupid,” needs to how to give advice in the right way. It might be a few years before he learns phrases such as, “That was not so wise,” or “I think it would be better if you …” A parent who asks their child the rhetorical, “Don’t you know any better?” has clearly not developed the art of giving advice.

Knowing how to give advice is especially vital in business. We want those on our team to do their best, in order to help the company thrive. We also want them to be happy, enthusiastic, and motivated. So when it’s clear someone is neither happy nor motivated, how do we step in and offer advice to help them in some area – whether it is a personal or company-related issue that needs attention?

Here are four suggestions to help you on the road of giving great advice:

1. Help them come to the right conclusions.
Hint. Don’t tell. Suggest. Don’t order. Express confidence in their ability to make the right decisions. Yes, offer counsel, but tread lightly. Use Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “Speak softly and carry a big stick” … without the stick.
2. Use personal experiences.
Perhaps you see a coworker or employee making some decisions that take you right back to when you first started in this business. Come alongside them and share with them your story and the things you’ve learned along the way. Everyone loves a good story, and most will read between the lines and catch the point of what you’re saying … without the “big stick” approach.
3. Wait for someone to ask.
It isn’t easy, especially if you feel responsible (or are responsible) for the outcome of some decision. But whenever possible, wait until your advice is requested before jumping in with the solution. Then you can be certain that it will be heeded and appreciated.
4. Brainstorm options together.
Even if you are fairly certain that you know the best way to go, avoid laying it out in concrete terms. Take some time exploring other possibilities. Let them throw out a few options. Be open and look at all paths, while at the same time expressing your honest thoughts on the matter.

Finally, when offering advice, it is helpful to remember that we all have things to learn … yes, even from those we work with every day.

Grow Big or Go Home!