Don’t drop hints

Speaking openly and honestly is more likely to be effective than dropping hints. This is because: (i) people often don’t tune in to the hint; it goes over their head; and (ii) if they do get it, they may resent it – they may feel that you are trying to manipulate them, rather than communicate with them in a genuine way. Despite these problems with hinting, it is a very common occurrence for people to risk alienating others in this way. Learning and practising the skills involved in sensitive and tactful direct communication without ruffling anyone’s feathers are much wiser steps to take.

Don’t rely on common sense

So-called ‘common sense’ is often not common (different people have different ideas about what is common sense) and not always sense (it is often contradictory). What counts as common sense can be important advice and wisdom built up over many years of experience. However, it can also, at times, be based on unquestioned prejudices and taken-for-granted assumptions. But, whether what counts as common sense is sound or not, what resorting to common sense amounts to is relying on preformed ideas instead of using reflective practice to think, plan, analyse and make sense of the situations we are dealing with. Someone saying: ‘It’s common sense’ is often inviting us to accept their perspective uncritically, rather than work out our own view on it.