5 tips on how to give advice and instructions

death star attack briefing



big part of my time is dedicated to giving advice and instructions.

in past two years i probably gave between 2,500 and 5,000 advice or instructions.

(2 years = 500 working days * 5-10 instructions per day.)

i work with at least 10 clients and at least 10 collaborators on various projects.

people i work with range from 20 to 60 years old.

they are from usa, canada, japan, south africa, italy, denmark, sweden, france, germany, and serbia.

they are mostly men.

i am far from perfect, but through trial and error i have developed a style which helps.


what is the difference between advice and instruction

both advice and instruction tell someone how to do something.

advice means it is up to the recipient to decide if she wants to do what is advised.

instruction means that it is expected of recipient to do what is instructed.

advice is a form of guidance, instruction is nicer word for order.


5 tips on how to give advice and instructions

1) do not give advice or instruction unless you are confident it is complete and no questions will be asked

2) agree on which measuring units you use like dates, time, distances, weight etc

3) narrow down communication to YES / NO answers as much as possible

4) define processes fully minimizing the level of abstraction, never skip steps or assume recipient knows them

5) always ask for a deadline which includes hour of delivery as well



imagine you are briefing rebel starfighters how to destroy the death star:

“The target area is only two meters wide.

It’s a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port.

The shaft leads directly to the reactor system.

A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.”

you do not want to be imprecise, incomplete, or unclear in such a situation :)

read the full star wars: a new hope script here.