When you make suggestions, do people take your advice?

I suggested that someone thank two people.  (The two had been helpful to him.)  I thought he’d be thankful for my suggestion.  Instead, he bristled, “No one is better at gratitude than I am.”


He was angry at my suggestion.  I thought I was being helpful, but I hurt his pride.


Does it mean I shouldn’t make suggestions?


When you tell others what ‘should’ happen, you create resistance.  Position creates opposition.  As an alternative, offer what you think is right and then let it go.  Just watch what happens.  And don’t fear adversity.  Sometimes it is the only way to grow.  Of course, you don’t court adversity, but when it occurs – learn from it.


What I learned (hopefully) is that when you make a suggestion, you need to be careful about when you make it, how you say it, and to whom.  – Shar McBee


P.S.  The last message was about how gratitude can help you to gain support.  I received “Thank YOU” emails from 14 of you. (One email was negative.)  It’s interesting how something as agreeable as gratitude can arouse such strong reactions!







10 thoughts on “When you make suggestions, do people take your advice?”

  1. Well since you asked for opinions =)

    I TRY to give suggestions when ASKED…not always easy, because I often see possible solutions, or a need, but TRY TRY to keep my mouth closed….doesn’t always happen =)

    Thank YOU for all you do!

  2. This is a sticky wicket for sure. As this relates to my husband: To find out information and to avoid what you describe as “position creates opposition” I ask (genuinely) inquisitive questions – he still takes exception to my questions and will often become defensive — thinking, I guess, that I’m STILL questioning his opinion/decision even tho I’m just trying to figure out what and why. I’ve yet to discover a work around this. I’d gladly welcome suggestions of different ways to word questions! That technique surely seems to work well for me in other situations.

  3. Gratitude is often mis-understood. Especially when you’re the boss or “recognized” as the person with power in a given situation. By its very nature it turns the tables. Also, something as simple and decent as saying “thank you” can elicit a reaction far different from what you thought you could expect, if the timing of your “thank you” isn’t right or the emotional environment in your group/business/home isn’t a good one. When things are calm and there’s no lingering bad feelings after a big event, tough time or crisis situation — that’s the time to express gratitude. Lingering dissent or anger (as represented, as Shar says, in the “position” you’ve taken) will color the gratitude you’re trying to communicate and the very people you are trying to thank could possibly read it as something sinister, assume you have an ulterior motive, or whatever. In other words, clear the air first, THEN thank the people you want to thank. That’s the only way people can hear — and actually believe — your gratitude.

  4. It’s virtually impossible to tell someone else to thank people — I was super insulted when the ex dir of an org I am involved with suggested I thank certain key people in a recent event — I had already written them thank you notes, but she didn’t know that. It’s a power play, a way of telling me I didn’t know the right thing to do (when of course I did), and I resented it.

    If your group is sitting down all together and reviewing your event, discussing pros and cons, so your know what to improve next time, sure. That’s the time to mention who needs thanking, and how. But it can never come across as bossy. The actual thanking needs to be genuine and REAL — not “corporate” like just another thing to tick off on your to-do list.

    You COULD develop an awards program at your nonprofit — establish criteria, a list of potential recipients, etc. — and make these awards very public. That might work for your org. But to thank people “on the fly” isn’t genuine; it’s often seen as an after-thought. Suggesting to another person that he/she should thank various people is not the sort of advice you CAN give, unless your relationship with that person is VERY strong, almost intimate.

  5. I grew up in a family and environment of “you should do”. I agree, too, that when you use this approach, it builds resistance. It’s taken much prayer and grace to change this approach. Now, before those words even slip off my tongue, I’ll genuinely ask “what are your thoughts on…?”. For me, this allows the opportunity for open discussions.

  6. I agree with Mary that people don’t mind advice if its carefully worded. For example: “Maybe it would be good if you said “thank you”.” versus “You should….”. Or “You’ve probably already thought of this, but… A real suggestion is worded so that it leaves a person feeling that they are free to disregard the suggestion also, a take it or leave it option. “I could be all wrong about this but…” Marian T

  7. I recently had a fabulous conversation about gratitude and suggestions. The agreement we came to is that how it is received is both dependent on who, when, and how it is shared but it is equally dependent on what your energy and motivation is behind it. Those are my thoughts anyway.
    Blessings to All!

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