We always want to share our experiences and how we solve problems. When someone shares a problem they are facing, we quickly jump into the “If I was you…” “Here is what I would have done…” “That happened to me and I …” “why didn’t you just…” etc. This is especially true with a managerial relationship.
That does not work, and you are not helping that person; STOP IT!
What you can do is work through this inquiry;
- Listen to the person – Sit up, Lean Forward, Nod for approval, take notes, and be empathetic and not apathetic.
- Clarify the problem – Once they have shared, ask Who? What? When? Where? How? questions. This shows respect for the person and allows them to clarify what is happening in specific situations.
- Affirm the person’s efforts & talents – Take time to show empathy and admire what is happening and what they are doing. Say something like I appreciate the way you …” or “Now I understand, and you are amazing at …” This must be sincere.
- What worked in the past – ask, “When something like this has happened before, what has worked? What has helped you move to a solution/resolution?”
- Can you do that again – whatever worked in the past can be repeated, perhaps not precisely although some portion in some way can.
- I wonder how – now if the person would like you to share some ideas. Ideas should be shared as questions and not as statements; for example, “I wonder how you think about …” “I wonder how you could …” “If you tried x, I wonder how y would happen.”
- See what fits for the person – Spend time and talk about any ideas the person has, or you have that may be applicable. Remember that the person cannot solve their problem the same way you solved yours. They must have ownership of the solution.
- What can you do – actions – The person has to determine one small step that they can take to institute the solution.
- How will you know to follow up – arrange a way to follow up and perhaps try a Plan:Do:Check:Act on what worked and what to do more of.
Your solutions are your solutions, and they work for you, not for me.
image by jot.punkt