Most people don’t care what you have to say.
They hear advice all day, and your words are just chirping in the background of a world they’ve long tuned out. That’s why you need to do something bold, something unpredictable to get their attention.
In the Godfather: Part 2, young Vito Corleone, played by Robert Dinero, shuffles up to a landlord who has recently threatened a young woman Vito cares about with eviction. He leans in and delivers his iconic line.
“Do me this favor. I won’t forget it. Ask your friends in the neighborhood about me. They’ll tell you I know how to return a favor,” and he stuffs an obscene amount of money in the landlord’s hand.
Do me this favor?
He has all the power in the neighborhood, but approaches the man as an equal. That line captures everything suave and powerful about giving godfather-level advice. Think young Robert DiNero meets old Pope Francis.
If you want an ear with people, you’ve gotta catch their attention. You have to give them something incredibly valuable, your wisdom, and deliver it so the person wants to do what you advise and is grateful you said it.
In other words, you have to give them an offer they can’t refuse. Then and only then do you achieve gangsta level Christianity.
How to Make People Pay Attention to Your Words
1. Convince Them of Their Control, Not Yours
This is the exact opposite of what weak people do, which is exactly why it’s going to get their attention.
No one tells someone to do them a favor while they are loading the person up with the easiest decision bankrolled by the thickest wad of cash. Except a Godfather.
The same is true with your advice. To gain an ear, here’s a secret weapon:
The more you empower a person with control before you give advice, the more likely they’ll take you seriously. This is a psychological principle that is powerful, and the only real way to give godly advice. Tell them they should reject your advice if it doesn’t strike them as gold, before you ever tell them what you’re going to say. This is key. Telling a person you don’t care if she listens after you’ve given advice projects weakness. It says you don’t really expect anyone to respect it, that you’re insecure about your words. Failure. Telling him you’re about to give gold but he should choose wisely if he takes it — and the decision is in his hands — before you ever mention what you’re going to say gets people’s attention. And it projects strength.
This is how my Dad gives advice. You can almost hear the Godfather leaning in with a wad of cash and a cigar:
“I’m going to give you some advice, but I want you to know you should make your own decision. Throw away my advice as soon as I walk away if it doesn’t strike you right. You need to make the choice that you think is best.”
This little boy or girl just grew three feet, just got pumped with a boost of testosterone or double shot espresso, just got a metaphorical wad stuck in his or her hand. And your advice gains an ear.
Nobody does this except a godfather.
As an aside, you’ll never be blamed later if they take this kind of advice. You smartly served it up into their court, and they know the whole game is on them to return. Rules are drawn. Territories divided. Alliances forged.
Immature, pathetic people try to control others when they give advice.
They complain, whine, and manipulate to get what they want. Be a Boss. Hold your cards to your chest, cigar in your mouth. Give them the control that others are trying to take, and you’ll find they give it back nine times out of ten by taking your advice.
This is gangsta level advice-giving.
2. Shower Them With Respect
I’m not talking flattery, words that lack genuineness,
Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. Proverbs 28.23
I’m talking respect. A weak person undercuts his chances by saying something passive-aggressive like, “Well you’re probably not going to listen anyway, but…” or “I doubt you’ll do it, but…” and whatever spew on the front of his mind follows.
Good luck with that. Don’t undercut your chances before you begin. Shower the person with respect, as an equal. Think of how Vito appealed to the landlord like a man rather than pulling out his big guns and trying to intimidate him. He showed respect by pulling him into his confidence with a matter that required his attention. Back up your words with a little gravitas and show the person you believe in them before you give the best advice of their life.
If you do this, you’re gonna win with the person, even if he or she doesn’t listen.
Don’t Be a Tool and Reverse the Gangsta Advice-Giving Process
1. Don’t Re-establish Your Control With Your Response
If you get upset that the person doesn’t take your advice, you probably shouldn’t be giving advice in the first place.
Notice Vito doesn’t say, “This is how it is. Do this or else.” But many of us essentially do in our relationships. We give advice, and if it isn’t taken we’re pissed. Your place is the giver of advice, not the decider of advice. Don’t confuse the roles.
Even Jesus knew when to humble himself before the Father.
2. Don’t Destroy the Relationship
If you complain or gossip to all your friends after the person doesn’t take your advice, you’ve broken the Godfather rule and taken it outside the family. Basically, you’re Fredo.
Similarly, if you’re tempted never to talk to the person again you’re not suave enough, not personally cool enough to pull off DiNero-level advice. A godfather wouldn’t be affected. Even if it’s really important. Channel your inner gangsta into only one thing.
Pray for them. And expect God to move.
Here’s a formula if you need to break it down.
Reinforce Their Control + Respect = Received
Re-establish Your Control + Destroy Relationship = Fail
Don’t be a goon when it comes to advice. Grab your cigar, get serious, and lead the family. No one listens to a manipulative sniveler who can’t go five days without displaying the veneer of fakeness over his inner control freak. But a godfather always gains an ear.
Be a godfather in the faith now, who empowers control and respects and aligns with a value that far exceeds his words.
And like God did after he sent his Son, in the wisdom of heaven, to die and rise again for the life of the world, he’ll give them his Holy Spirit to lead them in the knowledge of him.
He’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse.