Do we, as professional women, have the unalienable right to share unsolicited advice? Some may think we wake up every morning determined to spread the daily gospel with our unsuspecting, and sometimes skeptical, audience.
Wait! Is that what we’re doing? Or are we just trying to share what we consider to be sage wisdom, accumulated through years of our very personal blood, sweat and tears?
If one has the compulsion to share advice, and often it is our responsibility as leaders to do just that, here are some suggestions from a compulsive advice giver:
- Observe how people respond to your advice: Do eyes glaze? The polite nod? If you notice that the message is not being received, the delivery may need help.
- The power of “how” questions: I was recently advised to use “how” in a question vs. “why”. It is much less accusatory, less harsh. It gives people the opportunity to speak openly without feeling the need to be defensive. It also enables your advice to be delivered in a non-threatening, less judgmental environment.
- Listen: The power of “how” questions only work if we listen. It gives us an opportunity to really walk in someone else’s shoes. Then, we can tailor the message to maximize the value for each individual.
- Remember the never out of fashion concept of WIFM (what’s in it for me?): Focus advice on how it may help that person achieve their goals and objectives. Sage, and proven to be successful advice, will inspire, while “told you so” advice, usually will not.
- Announce it is coming: There is nothing wrong with saying, “ok, here comes some unsolicited advice. Sorry, I just can’t help myself…But after hearing…it may be helpful….”
- Feel, felt, found method: In terms of the actual delivery, this shows an understanding of the recipients’ situation. The first step is “feel” (also known as empathy), which creates a neutral zone. “Felt” creates a community of people who have experienced the same challenge, and “found” allows you to deliver your sage and awesome advice.
- Always opt out: Remember, if it does not add value, file it for a later day!
Stay tuned for my next post: How to handle the serial, unrepentant advice giver.