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There’s a better way to do that

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in Workplace Communication

Have you ever looked at how a colleague is working and thought, “He’d get better results if he did it this way instead”?

Should you offer a suggestion? You have a couple of options:

A. Give him your input. Even if your input is fantastic, you risk not presenting it the right way, turning your colleague defensive.

B. Never make suggestions, sacrificing the possibility of giving input that might really be appreciated.

It’s all in how you present it, and your expectations of what will happen after you do it. Here’s how to approach it:

1. Assume that if something isn’t within your direct area of work, it’s probably more complicated than it looks from the outside. As you give input, make it clear you recognize that.

2. Let the person know he can use your suggestion
as he sees fit, and he doesn’t need to feel obligated to explain to you whether or not he used it. That’s because you don’t want him to feel obligated to spend his time explaining that your suggestion, while sounding good on the surface, wouldn’t work because of x, y and z.

3. Don’t keep pushing. Trust that he’ll give your suggestion the consideration it merits, and that he’ll use it if it helps him.

Bottom line: Be sure you convey a level of trust in your colleague’s competence and judgment, so your co-worker won’t feel obligated to defend himself—or even argue with you.

— Adapted from “How to Give Coworkers Advice Without Annoying Them,” Alison Green, U.S. News & World Report.

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