5 Ways to Make Suggestions that Get Heard
Suggestions are another way of saying do it my way. The person making suggestions is telling you how they would do it, if they were doing it.
The worst suggestions come after you’re done and someone says, “Next time you could ….”
You think, next time you do it. Jerk!
Suggestion-makers look like they feel superior.
Suggestions feel like ingratitude. People with “ideas” should just get out of the way so you can get something done.
The harder you work the more suggestions from bystanders feel like a punch in the gut.
“To accept good advice is but
to increase one’s own ability.” Goethe
- Lash out.
- Make excuses.
- Say, “That’s stupid.”
- Hand them the broom in disgust and say you do it!
Don’t punish people who have ideas. But, ignore people who just want things done their way.
- Say, “Thank you. Maybe we can use your ideas next time.”
- Ask if they would like to be involved.
- Smile and let it go. It’s not worth being upset.
Make suggestions effectively?
The trouble with suggestions is the pursuit of excellence demands them. Tweaks are another way of enhancing efficiency and achieving better results.
Express curiosity before making suggestions.
- What goals are you shooting to achieve?
- What are your frustrations?
- How can I help?
5 Suggestions on making suggestions:
- Avoid thinking everyone has your strength and should do things your way. Do your suggestions align with their strengths?
- Begin conversations by asking, “What’s working?” and, “What’s not working?” It’s a waste to ask, “How are things going?”
- Make after action reports – suggestions – part of the system.
- Ask, “What if we tried ….?”
- Get involved.
What makes suggestions palatable?
First, love the pic. I always try to remember that when someone is offering suggestions, they’re (usually) trying to help. Even when it’s clutsy. Sometimes we have to help people learn how they can be most helpful (for us). Marriages are a great place to work on that 😉
Love your addition to this conversation. Assume they have good intentions. So good.
Totally agree Karin. This is a skill that definitely crosses the personal and work life boundaries. I think many of us are better at doing this at work than at home. At home I’m trying to add lots of friendly and cautious pretext but I still forget at times.
One example of trying: “I’d like to make a suggestion that I hope might help but if now is not a good time I can save it for later.”
I agree with letsgrowleaders. Marriages are great places to work on this! The skills bleed into so many aspects of our personal and business life.
Thanks Frances. You’re making me think about the importance of modeling the way. Cheers
Well if a person has a product to sell nowadays the best way I have seen is using something called a VSL …..video sales letter. Only 800 million dollars worth of products and services sold using vsls in the last couple of years.
So if what you are doing is not getting these types of results you might want to look into it.
The first thing is to get the person seeing it to pay attention. The introduction line is called, the Snap Suggestion. If you do not use NLP to scramble the readers brain the rest does not matter.
The other thing is all I can do is all I can do. Truly Human Leadership is hands down better than any other Leadership model. Barry Wehmiller results prove it.
Khan Academy is the best model for education, period. Just watch it develop over the next few years. Great thing if you look at our kids math and science world rankings.
And if a person is selling an idea, product, service…..video sales letters are the hottest way right now. Jon Benson has a great program that people can use from never having heard of this to making money with their own Vsl in 28 days. You can google him on youtube. Free!!
Now see Dan all I can do is all I can do. These are great suggestions. You look into them, couple of hours maybe. Then tell me they are not!!!!
You can’t look into these without saying Wow! See I can find this stuff and help myself what I can’t do is do anything about others contempt prior to investigation.
It is their choice to stay or not in everlasting ignorance.
All I can do is all I can do. Up to others if they want to learn new cool stuff.
Have a great one thanks Dan
Say, “That went really well. How can we improve next time? Gives everyone an opportunity to say what they’re thinking, doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, and encourages “continuous Improvement.”
Thanks Linda. We might even explain the specifics of what we thought went well and give them a chance to affirm, confirm, or correct our perception. Gee! It seems like I’m adding a suggestion to your suggestion.
How would you respond if you made a suggestion to the President, and were told it was articulate and compelling and as a result, he has decided to implement it. However, it will not mean a professional growth opportunity for you and you will be held accountable for an increase in quota to ‘cover’ the implementation of the idea?
I would feel disappointed that the results weren’t more favorable. I’d be tempted to pull back but I’ve learned that pulling back is self-sabotage.
Good morning Dan and all,
Thank you for such a great post!
In case of suggestions, I think it’s all a matter of timing and as Dan points out, tact. Blurting your suggestion in front of everyone seems like a slap-down. Asking the best question ever, How Can I Help and THEN asking for permission to make an observation is less affronting. The ownership of the process stays in the right hands, the suggestor becomes a consultant, no one’s fur gets spiky. Theoretically 🙂
Thanks Catie. Yes, timing matters. Don’t interrupt a celebration with a suggestion, for example. 🙂
I try to encourage suggestions as a matter of routine. I rarely move forward on an initiative without having other eyes look at the plan or the document. Even when my initial emotional reaction to a suggestion is negative, I try not to discard it. More than once, something in that suggestion has been right (which is probably why I bristled to begin with 😃). Making suggestions is much more difficult for me. I find that I really need to understand the person to whom I’m making it. Suggestions seem to require both tact and context, even when someone has solicited them. “You might consider spelling out those acronyms because…” Great suggestions, Dan. Thanks.
Thanks Steven. I’m a huge fan of creating routines/systems so that things like feedback, suggestions, and improvements are personal. It helps keep everyone focused on issues rather than personalities.
Regarding context, please don’t give suggestions until you understand what’s going on… 🙂
With the best of intentions the collective “we” offer (attempt to impose?) our most excellent learnings on others, sought or not. Dependent on how our wisdom of the ages is delivered, we can create a power differential chasm that will end up being an overflowing sar-chasm. (Okay that was a stretch, but the reaction seems likely.)
As you noted Dan, setting up systems requires prep work and a cycle of feedback that has to be believed in and happen continuously.
Rather than telling/suggesting, perhaps first seeking suggestions (help) might be an alternative…”I’m looking for ways of continually improving my work. What things have worked for you? When you did XXX what did you learn and how did you learn it?” You create a different power differential respecting and valuing what that individual has learned. A follow up might be, “When I did something like that, this happened and this is what I learned. Is this similar to your experience?” Essentially two pieces at work…motivational interviewing and unconditional positive regard.
Thanks Doc. Your suggestions about good ways to make suggestions are too personal!! I don’t want to change what I do. I want to change what THEY do!! 🙂
As always, much appreciated.
Thank you ! Growth can be painful and well worth the stretch !
Feeling the stretch on a regular basis. 🙂 Best for the journey ramona.
I am much more likely to take suggestions from people who are close to me or people who are struggling beside me. Suggestions from people on the outside are hard to take. They are even harder to take when the suggester is unwilling to help work toward their own suggestion
Coach, I try my best to put Principles before Personalties, AA Big Book tells me this is a good idea.
See if I have contempt prior to investigation, which is kinda filtering who and where I will allow information to come in from I am cutting myself off. What if what a person I choose not to listen to could open me up to a whole new world of possibilities? I miss out on a whole new world of possibilities cause I do not care for the person sharing it with me? Well, that is just me being kinda foolish, isn’t it?
The EXACT information I might need to help me might come from a person I really cannot stand to be in the same room with. Who loses if I decide not to listen to them? ME!!!!! I do not want to lose. I want to WIN! Like winning much better!
So what I do is investigate with passion all information that presents itself, no matter the source. I might learn something I never knew before! Or find something I thought was true IS NOT! Determine the worthiness of the information BASED on the information. Look to understand the message and not miss cause I do not like the messenger.
Just my take, doesn’t mean the way described is wrong, just different. Just my opinion based on my experience.
SP The Dude Abides!
Great suggestions there Dan 😉 I guess it makes a difference if you are someone’s manager/mentor/teacher too. Suggestions for improvements are exactly what’s needed sometimes. How we give those suggestions can certainly be enhanced by your ideas above. Thanks
First, determine if they are “in a teachable space” (i.e., open to suggestions).
Great post (and timely), Dan – thank you!
Sharing a sensitivity. Likely we are in agreement at the power of our words and that we live in an overly violent world. Might we be able to rephrase “what goals are you shooting to achieve”
I often find that asking people something like, “Can I offer a suggestion” works really well. People often accept the offer and don’t feel like you are forcing your opinion on them.