personal development

“What you should do is…” and other ways to offer a suggestion that annoys people


3 tips on the best way to share your advice

[Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment in Jennifer Abrams’ ‘Personal Development’ column for eSchool News. In her columns, Abrams focuses on leadership skills for anyone working in a school or district. Read more about the column here.]  

We’ve all been there. We know better. We want to help others just “get it.” Then we tell them what they should do. If they just tried this or did that, their problem would surely be fixed. It is a no-brainer for us, but it isn’t anything but annoying for others.

I think help is a great thing, but your idea of help may not be seen by those you are trying to assist as helpful at all. For more on this fantastic idea, read Edgar Schein’s books, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling and Helping: How to Offer, Give and Receive Help.

In the meantime, while you are looking into Schein’s great works, here are a few tips on offering a suggestion in a way that might be heard and appreciated.

(Next page: Tips on giving suggestions people want to hear)

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