Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Making a recommendation, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- How often do you make recommendations to others? You might realize that it happens in our work worlds a lot. Teachers suggest textbook adoptions and curriculum changes. Employees are asked to suggest improvements to processes or systems. Business consultants... Well, consultants, you make recommendations for a living. So, today, let's talk about how to successfully make those recommendations. First, we must be very sensitive when making recommendations because, frequently, the people we are suggesting the changes to have some sort of connection to or investment in the current way of doing things.
Perhaps the school principal to whom you are making a textbook recommendation was on the adoption committee for the current books. Or your boss may have implemented the very system that you think you can make better. Consultants, you are making recommendations to business owners who may realize that change needs to happen, or you wouldn't have been hired. But that doesn't mean that letting go of the old way will be easy or pain-free. Think of it like this.
Stakeholders, that is anyone with a vested interest in their current way of doing things and their businesses are like parents and their children. I adore my children. I think the world of them. I'm proud of them. They can also drive me a little crazy. I realize that they aren't perfect. Sorry, kids. And that sometimes, a little change might be good. But, it would sure make me angry to hear someone else say anything unkind about my precious babies.
Business stakeholders feel very much the same way. They are proud as can be of their organizations. Those businesses also drive them a little crazy sometimes. And, while they know that a little change might be in order, it's still hard to hear that from someone else. So, lesson number one when making a recommendation: Tread lightly. Don't disparage the old way of doing things.
Stick strictly to facts to compare and contrast the old and the new. Never use judgmental terms to describe the current way of doing things, even if the stakeholder uses harsh language. The current system isn't antiquated, it's 14 years old. The textbooks you use aren't boring, they lack multisensory capability that other texts have. A business owner doesn't have lousy customer service, he just has untrained service reps.
Be gentle. Be kind. But, you are still there to make a recommendation. Try using this simple three-step organizational pattern to help your listeners best understand your recommendation. Clearly and concisely state what the recommendation is. First thing, lead with the big idea. Then, explain two or three reasons why this is a good suggestion. And finally, spend time, if appropriate, explaining how the idea could be implemented.
Often times, recommenders begin by explaining too much background information or too much of their own research and analysis. If you lead with this background information, your listener doesn't understand the relevance because she hasn't heard the suggestion. She has no way of judging if your analysis makes sense if she doesn't know where you are heading. So, spit out that recommendation right up front, and then follow it up by making your case.
We need to be cautious when making recommendations, and use the "what, why, how" organizational pattern. Try these tips on your next recommendation, and let us know how it goes in the course feedback.
- Understanding introversion and extroversion
- Persuading people
- Negotiating your needs
- Making small talk
- Saying no
- And more…
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