I have noticed one behavior many of us use that almost guarantees that our suggestions, solutions, and opinions will be ignored when we offer them:
We tell people what to do before we have heard their whole story.
When we offer people suggestions, solutions, and opinions before we have heard them out, they often do not care what we have to say. So, they rarely listen to and fully comprehend what we are suggesting.
The suggestion might be useful. It might be right on target. It might be exactly what the other person needs to hear.
And, they probably won’t hear it.
If you speak too soon, you’re just trying to push fluid into an already full container.
Offering suggestions before people have told their whole story is like having a doctor prescribe medication or treatment before listening to all of the symptoms.
I once had numbness and tingling in my foot. I went to my doctor, and he asked a whole battery of questions before prescribing a treatment plan. He asked about my physical activity, other pains or sensations I had in other parts of my body, how my leg felt, etc.
In the end, we identified the source of the numbness in my foot to be a problem in my lower back. It could have been any number of other problems. If he had jumped on the numbness in my foot without digging further into my other symptoms, he could have prescribed a wonderful treatment for a problem that had nothing to do with my problem.
In this case, he chose to diagnose the problem before he prescribed a solution.
When we work with other people, we need to keep this idea in mind.
We may have valuable experience to offer. We may have seen this problem before. We might even have a great, simple solution to offer.
And it just doesn’t matter if we offer the suggestion, solution, or opinion in a way that virtually guarantees that the other person ignores or discounts our input.
As you work with others and attempt to share your experience, remember the lesson from my doctor:
Ask, listen, and diagnose before you prescribe.