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I'm giving feedback/advice to an individual and need to express it in a non-directive, non-prescriptive manner. While it may seem a passive approach, the context is very delicate. An example would be, "John would be well served by using less of an authoritative communication style with his team...".

What other ways can I express this?

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  • "Another approach John might consider is..." Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:06
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    Or "I recommend that John experiment with a less authoritative communication style," although I'm not sold on "authoritative" as a meaningful adjective here. Or "John and his team might benefit from a less rigid style of communication."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 5:53
  • "John would likely have more luck if he ..." "It might work better if John ..." One could probably come up with a dozen different intros. And there are easily a dozen other ways to infer "less of an authoritative communication style" as well.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 0:45
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    Hint: Try to talk less like a manager or someone writing a psych paper and more like a friend.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 0:46

2 Answers 2

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The given phrase is

John would be well served by using less of an authoritative communication style with his team...

It implies that John is doing something incorrectly - in this case, he is being too authoritative - and it suggests a better way of doing something. You could do something along the lines of this post and write

John would be better off using less of an authoritative communication style with his team...

Another phrase with the same connotation is

John would be well-advised to use less of an authoritative communication style with his team...

These are some of the simplest ways to preserve the structure of the sentence.

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  • well served seems to be a stock phrase used in performance reviews. I've seen it in many of my own.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 20:21
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    I think you mean "well-advised" in your last example. Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 19:41
  • @WhatRoughBeast You're right; I did.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 20:09
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I think the principal distinction here is between a positive and negative framing.

The phrase less authoritative is an oblique criticism, and is judgmental. Instead consider framing the suggestion positively,

'John would benefit from spending more getting to understand his team'

'John would benefit from integrating suggestions from his team into his decisions'

'John could help his team members feel more valued by discussing their opinions with them before making a decision'

'John could improve the cohesiveness of his team by encouraging group discussion'

'John could help his team members feel more valued by congratulating them for doing good work or making a valuable contribution to a group decision'

In all of these suggestions, John is taking an active, positive role in improving performance and building a cohesive, productive team. He feels valued and empowered rather than criticised and at a dead end.

And if you can't think of exactly what it is that he should do instead of being authoritative, it may be a sign that you don't understand John and his situation well enough to provide helpful feedback. The mental effort expended in framing the question positively is what actually provides the value of the feedback. Everyone can criticise, but not everyone can identify the best road forwards.

Hope this helps.

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