Creating a Suggestion That Sticks

What I learned about guidance through misunderstandings


Sitting in my clinic supervisor’s personal office, eager to find out what herbs and supplements he’d choose for my academic burnout, I realized something that would become a guiding principle for how I approach practice. 

Learning From What I Don’t Want To Model in My Healing Arts Practice

A couple of years into my Chinese medicine degree, I was about half-way completed, I was burning the candle at both ends as many students do; I held down two jobs and went to school full-time. As you can imagine, I was not radiating balanced health!

Big into self-experimenting to improve my grasp of this amazing medicine, I wanted to experience it first hand, beyond the conceptual ideas. I was gathering that visceral sense of how the process works and feels. 

So I booked an appointment with my supervisor for a personal health evaluation and advice. This was someone who, in my book, had major know-how and I respected him greatly (I still do). 

I expected to leave the appointment with a plan, or some sort of strategy for how to transform my situation. 

But that didn’t happen.

He randomly listed off various remedies while I fervently took notes and when I got home, all I had was a list of herbs and vitamins with no specifics. I felt so lost. 

This was an experience I’d go back to in my memory as a reminder of how I didn’t want to practice. 

It wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever experienced in a medical office, but it seemed like an important gap to bridge.

I began experimenting with the question — how do I give a good suggestion?

What fell short for me that day was the gift of specifics. Could he have communicated his ideas more clearly for me? Would I have felt more confident of what to do next? 

And how could he have shown me what to do so I’d have understood?


We all take in information differently. 

How we learn has been a big interest of mine. Learning and implementing. Because information is just a possibility until put into practice.

Experience is the real-life stuff.

When a good suggestion gets followed and transformation happens, that’s what gives me goose-bumps!

Since styles of learning vary from person to person, when we get exposed to the same material, we don’t all get the same comprehension of it. And the benefit of implementing (actually using the information) can get lost by the wayside if that’s not taken into consideration!

For instance, 

  • I take in information mostly by hearing or reading, then I internalize it by writing things out by hand. 
  • You may prefer to listen with your eyes closed to really internalize something.
  • Or you could be a great reader of manuals – step by step. 
  • Maybe you can watch a video on YouTube and you can replicate a skill without thinking about it!

The point is that a suggestion can be more easily integrated into real life (or at least give it a try) if we are aware of these many ways people learn. 

Closing the circle is part of the job.

If you were to ask me for a solution to a problem you have, and I possess tools that could possibly help but I can’t transfer that information to you in a way that you get it; then I’m not ‘closing the circle’, so they say. I’m not completing the task you asked of me.

The chance of compliance and success is better if given with mindfulness to the receiver.

I’m not saying a good suggestion exists because we know what’s best for another person. It’s about sharing information. 

So I realized as a health practitioner, if I was going to help with follow-thru on my suggestions then I’d best get clear on how to do that!

Could I go one more step to help with compliance?

The 3-D’s of Strategic Protocols

I started creating check-in methods to see how a suggestion would weigh in. These are tools that helped me know the client understood. Could they explain it back to me? Did they feel good about it?

I was able to put this into action with thousands of people I’ve worked with one-on-one. I put a real language to this method when I was teaching clinical herbal programs. We always learn something deeper when we teach it, right?

If you are implementing a protocol for yourself, or want to give a good suggestion, here’s one of the simple tools I’ve used in creating strategic protocols. This can be applied to any methodology really:

Follow the 3D’s; delivery, dosage, duration.


Specifics don’t always matter. Clarity does.

Conveying and understanding don’t always require the mind.

  • We can feel things such as music and art with our Hearts.
  • Transmission can happen directly through the language of Spirit.

There are many, many layers to compliance, habit-forming, resistance, and correct judgment. Many things beyond my control. Yet one of the things I can control is how I present information with the intention of connection.

Giving details is not the only way to usher in a transformation. But they have their place.

If I had been given a handout that included the 3D’s that day with my supervisor, I would have tried out his suggestion and maybe even gotten some help with my ‘student exhaustion’, who knows!

What I do know is I gained a great lesson in the importance of clear communication.

Because when folks are ready to understand how to do their part in the healing process and you give a good suggestion, they can internalize and implement the follow-through.

Together you see the magic of transformational healing take place while a new level of understanding and communication is built.