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Stop Telling People What to Do

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

This article is meant to be shared with your spouse, colleagues and/or boss. “You should exercise more.” “You should argue less with your colleagues.” “You should stop procrastinating.” “You should deliver this message to your client.” Does this sound familiar? Have you heard it recently? How did you feel about it? Were you annoyed? Or frustrated? How many arguments grew out of this defiant feeling?  NOBODY LIKES BEING BOSSED AROUND. Most of us want to defy any self-righteous authority.


Nobody likes being told what to do, yet we tend to do it all the time. 

Stop Telling People What to Do
Stop Telling People What to Do

Telling people what to do makes us feel in control. We feel helpful. We all mean well when we give advice. We all like to think someone we know solved their problem thanks to our advice. We want to be perceived as useful and we like to impart our knowledge.

But it doesn’t work.


Here are some reasons why telling people what to do doesn’t work:

  • Information is rarely the main problem. There is usually more going on behind the scenes that stops people from moving forward.

  • People don’t believe what you believe. We all have a unique set of values and beliefs that drive our behaviours. What could work for us might not work for someone else. Not everyone is motivated in the same way.

  • People don’t have the same skillset and strengths as yours. We will use our superpower to resolve problems, which are different that theirs.


What could work for us might not work for someone else.
What could work for us might not work for someone else.

Try this game-changing strategy: Stop Telling, Start Asking.

It is backed by science. It works.

If we go back to our initial examples, what would happen if instead of telling, we ask for their own opinions instead?

Try this game-changing strategy: Stop Telling, Start Asking.
Try this game-changing strategy: Stop Telling, Start Asking.

Try the power of asking questions.

Start from a place of curiosity.

Assume the best in the other person.

When you think of people as capable and creative, you’ll get curious about why they might be stuck. Then, you’ll see more possibilities than simply “they don’t know, so I’ll tell them.”


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