Most of us believe that our lives are so complex that the language we use to make decisions must also be complex. The experts we seek to help us decide can make us feel lost. We could take classes to learn how to talk in the expert’s language, but advancements in fields like law and technology are too fast to keep up. We can—and do—hire go-betweens to help us unravel it. There is a vast industry of software programs, financial advisors, consultants, and help desks. Or, we can go with our gut feeling, and hope for the best.
If you are an expert advisor who wants to help others make better decisions, try the following. If you are someone who wants better advice, ask your advisor to read this post.
- Speak in plain language. If you frequently have to define for someone a word you are using, or explain a concept to get him to understand what you are saying, try developing ahead of time a few simple translations.
- Provide real life examples showing options and possible results. Tell stories of real people in real situations.
- Acknowledge the importance of emotions in making decisions. Information and facts are important, but only go so far. Talk about how it feels.
- Stick to what you actually know. As a recognized expert in your field, you may be tempted to speculate or wander beyond your knowledge. (After all, you are the expert.) Practice saying the words, “I do not know.”