Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When You're Tempted to Give Advice

Many people hate unsolicited advice. If you're unsure whether to sally forth, you might try asking something like this: 

"Would you like me to try to come up with a suggestion, be a sounding board for you, or would you rather not talk about it?"


PCD said...

I like the intent behind that message but to me it sounds so robotic. If someone came up to me and recited a passage like that I doubt I'd feel the ability to connect with them even if I wanted to.
I've found that feeling the person out (reading the subtle clues that they give either consciously or subconsciously) is the best way to determine when to give advice or act as a sounding board. I find I'm often able to figure out what someone wants by being very aware of what they are saying and how they are acting.

In lieu of that though, I can see how your phrase could be very useful. Just my two cents.


Dan Erwin said...

Marty: Brilliant question. Although it may read robotic, it is exceedingly rare for anyone--that's right, anyone--to perceive a question as robotic in a normal business conversation. Those of us with nonverbal background understand the profound difficulty of accuracy built upon nonverbal interpretations.

Similarly, my admittedly anecdotal research in the business world leads me to believe that very few males ever ask questions--much less thoughtful, interpersonal questions.

I regularly use canned material for training purposes--including questions such as yours--finding that major execs from major corporations demand that kind of language technology. Indeed, once an exec begins to trust my expertise, two of their regular questions are "how do you say that," and "how would you phrase a question for that?" After my response, they fine-tune my language for their context.

I can hear the skeptics rising up against this response, but them's the facts of the situation.

Your industry information guide said...

That should be a good approach. But then, if a person needs advice, won't he just come up and ask?

Marty Nemko said...

No. Many people don't know they need advice. For example, most workers are doing the best they can, but may be unaware there's a smarter approach to doing their work.


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