Are You “Should-ing” All Over Everyone?

3 Easy Ways for People to Take On Your Advice

Image via Shutterstock - Kay White Taking Advice
Image via Shutterstock

“What you should do is…” “It’s obvious, you should do this, then you should do that and then you should tell them what you’ve done”. Should do. What you should do, want to do and actually do are often very different things. Even if the advice we’ve been given is spot on, the fact that we’ve been told we ‘should’ do it is often the very reason we don’t and if that’s the reaction we have, it’s the reaction that others will have when we ‘should’ all over them.

There’s something innately irritating to be told what we should be doing. It implies (this is the subtle, savvy part to understand) that we’re not doing something and that the other person is wiser than we are. It’s implicit that we’ve missed a trick and they haven’t. That they know better exactly what will work for us. Well, in reality, we know better than anyone what works for us and as we all know, making a decision ourselves and then sticking to it is always more powerful than carrying out other people’s advice. We own the outcome and are responsible for the result. (Or, in this case, response-able).

One of the big pieces of being an influential communicator as you work is to put across your ideas, suggestions, or advice (still need to do this!) and, at the same time, allow the other person to decide for themselves how, and if, it will work for them. It then becomes their decision, their action. This principle applies just as effectively at home with our families and friends – and those trickiest of customers, your children.

So, how do you get across your idea, suggestion, advice without saying “what you should do is” or “I think you should…”?

Here are 3 quick easy ways which work, for you to try out:

1. Start with “I’ve got an idea for you…” – this way you’re putting out that it’s only an idea and it’s for you to contemplate and understand if and how it will work. By saying “I’ve got” you’re telling the other person “OK, I’m ready with something that I think you’ll want but it’s up to you what you do with it”.

2. Say “I’m going to make a suggestion here” – again, you’re putting across that you have something to offer and you want their buy-in before you just throw it at them. 9 times out of 10, if you’ve read the situation and your relationship correctly, the other person will be more open.

3. Think aloud – “hmmm, that’s tricky, now I wonder if…” – you can hear (and feel) that you’re empathising that they have an issue or something tricky going on ie, they’re not an idiot – and saying “I wonder if” is a pensive, non-confrontational way of offering your thoughts or suggestions.

As with these ideas, avoiding the ‘should’ word once you start with these phrases is crucial; offering your thoughts in a less fixed way leaves the other person open to taking on what you think but without your judgement (intentional or otherwise) behind it. Try these phrases the next time you feel yourself about to say “well, you should” or “oh, it’s obvious, what you should do is…” You’ll notice the difference in how easily the other person(s) take on what you think and if they ignore you then at least they know you contributed your thoughts.

As I always say at dinner time to my husband, “There are two choices for dinner. Take it. Or leave it.” I bet, like he does, they’ll take it more often than not.

Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert, Kay White is hosting a unique 3-day Live Event “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” in London on 6, 7 and 8 October and as a guest of WATC, use the code WATCVIP and take 50% off your seat.

Let’s make it your time to shine at work without selling your soul. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards all while being true to yourself?

For further immediate ‘shots’ of inspiration and tactics on showing up at work in a way which gets you heard and understood, try Kay’s Weekly Podcast on iTunes: Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard . They’re short and snappy and full of tips to inspire and guide you at work.

Kay White
About the author

Kay White is our Show Up & Sparkle blogger. Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert for Ambitious Women in Business, Kay shows professional women how to attract promotion, recognition and rewards at work without feeling they have to ’sell their soul. Kay shows her clients, who are corporate career women at all different stages of their careers, how to naturally attract more income and opportunity all while being true to themselves. Combining strategic moves with influencing skills plus compelling and assertive language and powerful mindsets, Kay draws on her own 20+ years corporate career in the very male-dominated world of London insurance broking. She started at 18 as a Secretary and left as a Director to start her own business. Hosting an annual 3-day Event for corporate women “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” Kay encourages and shows women how to be the best, most valuable version of themselves. Kay is author of the Number 1 Best-Seller “The A to Z of Being Understood” and you can connect and find out more from Kay at : www.kaywhite.com.

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