People Skills Missteps: Dominating w/ Friendly Advice | #PeopleSkills

People Skills Missteps: Not so friendly, friendly advice.

If someone said to you, “I want to offer you some friendly advice”, would your gut reaction to that statement be positive or negative? Friendly advice? What would you expect to hear? Compliments?

The phrase friendly advice is fraught with people skills missteps and peril.

It’s actually a rather aggressive statement disguised as help. It sets the other person up to hear your unsolicited view or appear resistant and closed off. You can end up looking presumptuous, patronizing, or even domineering.

People Skills Missteps: Image is small pumpkin leaning on large pumpkin

People Skills Missteps of Friendly Advice Image by Sea Turtle via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by Sea Turtle via Flickr Creative Commons License.

People Skills Missteps: Friendly Advice or Advice?

Before you make this unnecessary gaffe, think about why you are labelling it friendly advice. Why not just “advice?”

Is it because you …

  • are unsure if they want your advice?
  • may be overstepping someone’s personal boundary?
  • are about to say something negative?
  • want to prevent a negative reaction to what you say?

You can avoid people skills missteps like this by first assessing your intent and view. Considering the advice you are about to give:

  1. How fully do you understand the other person, their goals, philosophy, and mindset?
  2. How often do you use the phrase friendly advice? Frequently? What do you think it says about you?
  3. Are you projecting your values on others and robbing them of their self-expression?
  4. Are you trying to create a clone of yourself?

Avoiding People Skills Missteps: Stay Objective!

Know yourself! Self-awareness and respect for others are powerfully positive tools in preventing people skills missteps.

If you are …

    Highly structured, your friendly advice may skew people that way.
    Free spirited, you may tell people to loosen up.
    Very driven, you may find yourself nudging people to drive harder.

Staying Objective: Before you give advice, practice what you are going to say. Remove the phrase “friendly advice” and say to yourself what you would to say to others. Without the psychological cushion of the phrase “friendly advice”, how does the advice sound to you? Will you appear helpful or presumptuous? Open-minded or domineering?

Next Step

After that if you are sure you still want to offer your view, omit the phrase friendly advice. Try “here’s my view …” or “here’s how I see it.” It shows ownership of your perspective and respects others’ views.

It’s human to want others to be just like us. Yet this fundamental urge does far more harm than good. Even if someone has asked for advice before, assuming they always want advice is definitely one of the big people skills missteps.

Think of if this way, if we know someone very well and have been their friend for a long time, we don’t need to use the phrase friendly advice. And if we aren’t that close, giving unsolicited advice can backfire on you and others.


How can we warn someone of potential trouble without presuming or patronizing?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

More People Skills Posts:
Avoid 8 Common Causes of People Skills Mistakes
Pleasures That Calm When Dealing With Toxic People

©2014-2022 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

Get more inspiration and actionable tips for high engagement results!

Buy Kate Nasser’s new book Leading Morale (

Comments are closed.

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest