Good communicators are always a plus in any work environment. People seek them out for their tact, diplomacy, and listening ability. One trait of a good communicator is knowing when, and when not, to give advice. When unsolicited advice is given, the speaker is not so subtly saying that the person can’t solve their own problem. Giving advice is most often a kind and thoughtful gesture, but it isn’t always interpreted in that way. Unless someone directly asks you for your advice, consider trying out the AAA Method in your interactions at work.
Giving advice is actually the third step in good communicating, but very often it is used as the first. For example, if a colleague comes to you to discuss a situation or an issue, you might assume that he or she is looking for your perspective on it, but maybe they’re not. Use the AAA Method and you’ll discover whether advice is warranted or not.
The first “A” stands for Acknowledge the feeling of the speaker. When someone comes to you, consider how they might be feeling and state it. Use words like, “That sounds frustrating” or “That would be disappointing.” In some way, show that you are trying to take the perspective of the speaker. One clue that you’re on the right track is that the person keeps on talking.
The second “A” stands for Ask questions. Be curious. Ask the individual about the situation and their perspective on it in a pleasant, congenial tone. When you ask questions you communicate that you don’t have all the answers. This makes the speaker feel knowledgeable and competent.
Communicating using the first two “A’s” is respectful and shows that you see the other person as an equal, even if it’s your boss speaking. You show that you recognize the intelligence and the knowledge of the person.
The third “A” is offer your good Advice, but only if it’s requested. For example, you could say, “Would you like some advice?” or “Would you like my take on the situation?” and go from there. Very often you’ll find that the person just needed to talk out the situation and was looking for someone to listen. In that case, the response might be something like, “No that’s ok. I’ve got it. Thanks for listening.”
Most often all of us have our own answers within us but we need some help in recognizing that. Sorting out our thoughts with a receptive listener can be so valuable. Try the AAA Method and watch your relationships blossom and your reputation as a good communicator grow.
Ellen Diana is a psychologist, author of the Lucky Dreamer Tip Series, and co-author of the Charge up Your Life series of self-help books. She has 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website www.ellendiana.com