How to Offer Advice/Feedback (So That They At least Make An Effort to Listen)
I’ve been reading ‘Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss’. He talks about some fascinating communication strategies.
I found this one especially interesting. Because it could help take your personal and professional relationships to the next level.
Often, it so happens that, when you’re in a conversation with a work colleague or say family member/roommate, you may say/hear things like…
“I don’t want to be an asshole, but you…. (unexpected advice/criticism/tip/feedback)”
“I don’t want to sound like some crazy creep, but you… (unsolicited advice/criticism/tip/feedback)”
(And it’s said in the self-righteous ‘I know whats right for you’ tone)
Now if you’ve been on the receiving end of statements like these, you already know what’s coming up next.
It’s either some (unsolicited/unexpected) advice or disagreement or maybe even a (mild or heavy) form of criticism of something you just did.
So how do you respond?
I tend to immediately prepare myself for an attack (depending on the tone of my counterpart).
I’ll either go on the defensive or perhaps if I’m feeling aggressive, I’ll react to it with a sharp rebuttal.
Statements like these often put the minds of those who hear us, on hyper-alert or guard. And it shuts them down to any new perspectives that you may have to offer.
Even interesting and insightful ones.
Because they’re already armouring up from within.
There is a straightforward way to twist this around to open the mind of your counterpart.
But you need to intentionally feel what you say, as well.
Instead of denying that you’re an asshole. You could ‘embrace the negative’ and say…
“I know I’m a total asshole, and this could even be a horrible idea. But its…”
Let’s wait here, for a moment.
The statement, ‘I know I’m a/being’… comes from a place of humility.
Also notice, when you’re acknowledging that you could be wrong, you’re also creating a sense of curiosity/eagerness in your counterpart. And maybe (if you’re unlike me and have a more than a few funny bones in your frame) you could even take it a step ahead and make them laugh as well.
By doing this, you’re making them more receptive to your message.
And instead of acting from a position of the self-righteousness, you’re stepping down from your (imaginary) pedestal. And directly embracing the negative.
The language construct -
‘I don’t want to sound like a’ changes to ‘I know I’m a/being.’
Now the tone in which you say/hear this matters as well. And if your words and tone aren’t in sync, your counterpart will detect a disconnect between what you’re saying and what you really mean to say.
And he/she will sense it intuitively — that you’re either being manipulative or dishonest.
That’s why I said; you need to genuinely feel this way too.
At least for the time being, it’s crucial for you to suspend the belief that you are “all right”. Of course, you could be right, in truth… but just maybe… you aren’t. And let’s keep it that way for now.
When you genuinely feel this way, it’ll show itself through your body language, your presence, your tone of voice and finally in your words.
Then, when all of them are in sync — you’ll have a better opportunity to help your colleagues and friends. And you’ll be able to convey your feedback or advice in a far more effective way.