Question: Often I see others making a mistake and would like to suggest another way of handling things. How can I do it without making others react defensively?
Answer: Do it in a gentle way. The reason others become defensive is that you are immediately putting blame on them. They don’t want to accept that. Even if your observations are correct, they may not be able to accept it. Their egos won’t allow it; so it puts a block there. That’s a defense.
If you really want to help others, first know their nature. Will they really accept and appreciate your advice? If you are a little doubtful but you still want to say something, just cook up a different way of presenting it. Say, “You know, I had the same problem the other day, and I had two ways to act. Thank God I went this way. If I had done it the other way I would certainly have gotten into trouble. Luckily I chose this one. I’m just sharing this with you. If you find it helpful, take it.” Put yourself in the other person’s place. There is a gentle way of saying it.
If you put things like this, he or she won’t immediately feel defensive. Sometimes if you state the plain truth in plain language, you hurt the other person, and you get hurt as well. We have to learn how to communicate.