How to Give Advice that Someone Will Listen To

Hint: flattery will get you everywhere.

It's no secret that people don't usually appreciate having their flaws pointed out to them — in the short term. If you're taking the time to send advice on CrowdBurst, you might as well take a little extra time to make sure it's heard.

Here's some advice on giving advice:

  1. Be humble.Remember, your advisee might have a perfectly good reason for what they do that you just don't see. You don't always know best. (Just usually.)
    You mispronounced the word "nuclear" in state-of-the-union address last week.
    I'm not certain myself, but I believe the the standard pronunciation of the word is "NOO-klee-er."
  2. Turn your criticism into a compliment.You know what they say about a spoonful of sugar.
    You look stupid in those orange knickers you wear every Tuesday.
    You would look fantastic in a nice pair of unpleated khaki slacks.
  3. Don't say "You should."Replacing "You should ..." with "You might consider ..." or "I feel ..." will make you sound more thoughtful and less obnoxious.
    You should stop keeping your crayfish collection in the coffeepot.
    You might consider keeping the crayfish somewhere besides the coffeepot.
    I feel frustrated when I see you placing live crayfish in the coffeepot that I've just washed.
  4. Lead with a genuine compliment.If you can mention something you like about the person or activity your about to criticize, it will set your advisee at ease and put them in a more receptive frame of mind.
    You said "as it were" five hundred and forty-four times in your twenty-minute speech.
    I loved your most presentation on self-hosting compilers on Tuesday! I've never learned so much in twenty minutes. You might consider trying to eliminate the phrase "as it were" from your next talk, as I found it a bit distracting.
  5. Use your Jedi mind tricks.Try to leverage "rules of influence" like consistency, authority, and consensus.
    Stop referring to your female employees as "broads."
    You've worked hard to create a comfortable, safe work environment, but I think it's undermined when you call our female employees "broads." (Consistency)

    You're wrong about the etymology of the phrase "the whole nine yards" — it doesn't refer to machine gun belts in World War II.
    According to language columnist William Safire, the phrase "the whole nine yards" predates World War II by several decades. (Authority)

    Don't slap a new client on the back the first time you meet.
    I've discussed it with the rest of the team, ' and we all feel that new clients are uncomfortable being slapped on the back. (Consensus)
  6. Finally: be honest!That's kind of the point.