I have a co-worker who doesn’t know how to talk to people in a positive way. When he offers “advice” it always sounds like he is criticizing people or putting them down. The newer people on our team are starting to avoid him, and they talk about him behind his back. I know the guy is trying to be helpful. I have no idea if I should say something or even what I should say.
Thanks in advance for your help.
— Concerned Colleague
Many people are awkward when giving “advice” or feedback, and it’s important that you recognize your colleague has good intentions. What he is missing is the difference between intention and impact. His intentions are good, but the impact is actually negative, and chances are he doesn’t realize there is a gap. Here’s how to approach him:
(1) Find a private place to talk. (2) Ask permission to give him some coaching. (3) Start with something like, “I’ve known you for a long time and I know you have the best intentions but you may not be having the positive impact that you want.” (4) Give 1-2 examples of what you’ve noticed. (5) Offer support.
In my experience, people genuinely appreciate this type of concern and this thoughtful approach. Good luck!