Many of us have a tendency to offer advice or to tell people what we think they should do.

By sharing our advice, our ego feels important and confident that its perspective and way of doing things is best.

Two roles in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™ are especially prone to giving advice.  The Rescuer will offer advice because they want to please. In the name of being helpful, Rescuers over step their bounds and give suggestions, whether they are wanted or not.  In an attempt to fix, do for, or take care of another – however well intentioned it may be – a Rescuer is nearly always in a “tell” mode.

The Persecutor, in order to control and dominate, will tell others what to do – and often how to do it! They give advice or direct in order to prove to everyone that they are right.

Both roles and their “telling” behaviors have the effect of discouraging creativity in others.

In our training, David always shares the following example, which he also uses in coaching leaders who have the tendency to “tell first,” whether as a Rescuer or a Persecutor:

“Suppose one of your employees approaches you with a problem and they ask you what they should do.  The natural tendency, from a ‘Tell First, Ask Second” mindset, would be to say something like, ‘If I were you, I would do A, B, C and D – what else have you thought of?’

However, it is much more empowering to ‘Ask First, Tell Second.’ When the employee comes to you, you might say, ‘I have some possible approaches, but what have you thought of so far?’ If you have told your employees to come with their own thinking to such conversations, they may say, ‘Well, I think I should do A, B, D and E.’  Your affirming response could be, ‘I think A, B, and D are right on and E is a great idea I did not think of.  All I would suggest is that you also do C.’

The result is that the employee is going to leave much more motivated because they are implementing their own ideas – which you reinforced and complemented – AND a creative idea came out that probably would not have, had you shared your ideas first.”

By asking first and, then, if necessary offering suggestions or perspectives, we support the other as a Creator, holding them as capable and resourceful and help them increase their own capacity for creativity and innovation.


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