Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to give advice and not come off as a know it all

Have you ever been "Mr Know It All"?

Guest post by: 

Taylor Elwood.


You are an expert in your field. You are someone people come to for advice when they have a particular problem. You know what you are doing and you feel secure in that. Here’s the challenge for you: How do you give advice to someone who needs advice without coming off as a know it all? 

One of the behaviors I notice (and have occasionally embodied) that occurs at networking meetings is that someone will offer unwanted advice because s/he is an expert and can see that a person they are talking to needs the advice. 

The problem is that the person hasn’t asked for the advice and feels resentful and likely will not fully listen because the person offering the advice hasn’t taken the time to consider whether or not the person is ready for the advice. 

Have you been either person in this situation?

Chances are you have been either person. 


Certainly I’ve been both the person who didn’t want advice and the person who offered advice and came off as a know it all. When you come off as a know it all, people don’t want to be around you, because while you might have the answer they need, what they don’t need is you forcing it down their throat. 

In fact, what they really need is for you to be considerate of them and to take an approach to offering advice that doesn’t come off as you being a know it all.

So how do you go about offering advice without coming off as a know it all?

  1. Listen carefully. Listen to what the person is saying. A lot of times what a person really needs is to be listened too. If you interrupt with advice, what it demonstrates is that you aren’t interested in them and their problem. You are more focused on what you know than on discovering what they need.
  2. Ask them if they want advice. After you’ve listened to someone, ask them if they want advice or feedback from you. If they say yes (and usually they will) then its ok to offer advice, because they are ready to listen (and more importantly they feel listened to and acknowledged).
  3. Avoid statements that include the word "but". Whenever someone says a sentence that includes the word but, it indicates that the first part of the sentence isn’t important. It marginalizes what was said, and emphasizes the second part of the sentence, but it also can marginalize the person hearing it, because even if you offer a compliment, it comes off as a back handed slap across the face.
  4. Recognize you don’t know everything. You may know a lot, but if you recognize that you don’t know everything, you keep yourself open to learning more. Just as importantly it helps you be humble even when you are an expert.
It is wonderful to want to help people and offering advice can be a good way to do it. Just remember that the person who might need your advice also needs to be respected and considered. 

Think about how you want your advice and you to be remembered and then approach the person, and be open to the possibility you may not offer the advice because they aren’t ready for it.

Crédito fotografía: lenm / 123RF Stock Photo


This is a guest post by Taylor Elwood. He became certified as a business coach and started his own business – Imagine Your Reality Business Coaching. He teaches other business owners on how to move their business from survive to thrive! You can visit his blog at Imagine Your Reality and follow him on Twitter




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