As a blogger I receive a lot of atta girls on certain blog messages in which I tell it like it is, or at least how it is to me. I have received comments however, that I may have been too blunt or critical. I see it as neither. Why? I found out that most people what your advice until you give it to them. If it is not what they want to hear, they feel it was too critical. Okay, so do you want advice or not? Straightforwardness is my way of life. It serves me well to be direct in my thoughts as well as my words and most importantly, my actions. Let’s dive in on why it is important, even if it is not well received, to tell it like it is.
Why You Want to Give (and Receive) Brutally Honest Advice
By Ali Luke on April 27, 2011
Here is an excerpt from a great article on Brutally Honest Advice (click on underlined text for link for full article.
How to Give Brutally Honest Advice
The flip side, offering brutally honest advice, is obviously much trickier than asking for it.
And as we will see in the next section, no matter how valuable brutal honesty can be, it’s not always the best approach. But it usually is, and here’s how to maximize your chances of getting a positive reaction when you offer it.
#1: Tell them you’ll be honest
Let’s say a friend, colleague or client comes to you, outlines their latest idea or shows you part of your work in progress, and eagerly asks, “So, what do you think?”
You want to be honest with them. So tell them that. Say “I’m going to be completely honest with you,” or ask them “Is it okay if I’m totally honest?” Make the terms of engagement clear, right from the start.
#2: Start and end with the good
Even if you think your friend’s idea is pretty unworkable, there’ll be something good to say. Whenever you’re offering feedback, it’s good to start and end on a positive note. (The Toastmasters do this with their speaker evaluations.)
If something is basically good but has a few flaws, make this clear right at the start. Say “I think this is a really solid business plan” or “I loved reading this blog post.” Don’t ever assume that people will knowthat their work is fundamentally sound: you need to tell them this, explicitly.
#3: Be constructive in your criticism
Don’t offer advice like “No-one will ever want to buy from that sales page” or “Your ebook will make people fall asleep.” Point out specific problems and, if you can, suggest solutions:
“The design makes the page look a bit scammy. Perhaps you could cut out the yellow highlighter?”
“The writing style seems very academic. Perhaps you could talk to the reader directly, using “you”, and bring in some personal anecdotes?”
#4: Tread very cautiously when offering unsolicited advice
Let’s say you spot that your friend has created a website where she’s selling handmade furniture. You might have all sorts of ideas about how she could improve everything from the site design to the shopping cart software.
If she’s not asked for your help, though, proceed with extreme caution. Few of us like to get brutally honest advice when we’ve not requested any feedback at all. If you’re in a situation where you feel like you absolutely, positively must speak up, you might want to check with a mutual friend first…
#5: Accept that they have the right to make their own decisions and mistakes
I was recently reading a thread on reddit with a man who was planning to speak up at the “speak up now or forever hold your peace” part of his brother’s wedding.
The reason? He thought his brother’s fiancee was not the right woman for him.
Now, the first obvious problem is that you should bring up something like this before the wedding, not during the ceremony.
But the man did that. No less than 5 times. And his brother heard the brutally honest advice, and still insisted on marrying his fiancee.
That would be a good point to stop and forever hold his peace. Because no matter how convinced you are that you are right and your friend is making a mistake, they have the right to make their own decisions.
So when you offer brutally honest advice, understand that your friend might not follow it. That’s okay. You can only make sure that they have all the relevant information when making their decision. The actual decision is up to them.
Once you’ve dispensed your brutally honest advice and your friend has acknowledged it, move on. This will help you remain a valuable advisor instead of turning into a pestering nag.
When Brutal Honesty Is Not The Best Approach
With all of that in mind, brutal honesty isn’t always the best approach.
When I (Vlad) did my first ever prepared speech at Toastmasters, I was, frankly, atrocious. My structure wasn’t very clear. I spoke too fast and mumbled. I fidgeted around. And the list goes on and on.
But that’s okay. Most people suck when they try giving their first speech in front of an audience. And the whole point of a place like Toastmasters is to get together and practice in a safe, friendly environment.
And so the feedback I received consisted mostly of pointing out the things I did right, with one or two points for improvement.
This helped reinforce the things I did right, and gave me something to focus on improving next. And it kept me motivated, instead of bringing me down by listing the dozens of things I did wrong.
So, sometimes, helping and encouraging your friends really is more important than pointing out every flaw in what they’re doing.
But next time someone asks you for feedback, or next time you need advice on something big and important, ask yourself whether it’s a good opportunity to practice brutal honesty. If money, health or relationships are on the line, it’s generally a good idea to speak up rather than to keep your doubts to yourself.
I thought about giving advice and I am not sure we should freely give advice and my reasoning is how many people actually take the advice you give them. I feel people hope you are going to agree with the decision they have already made in their minds. To prove this point, how many times have you offered sound advice only to find out the person did the exact opposite. How many times have we actually taken another’s advice, very few times, right?
LIVE LIFE, LOVE LIFE, AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST by considering if it is worth the effort to give advice, solicited or unsolicited to someone who is probably not going to heed the advice given. Just sayin’
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