From problem solver to listener

I have a hard time seeing a problem and not trying to find a solution. It is as though my mind works in a different way, constantly filtering information towards a solution. I see a problem that needs to be solved and I go through the library card file in my mind to determine if there is a current solution, or if it is something that I need to bring others in to help solve. There are often problems that have an easy solution, and others that can be easily solved if you bring in your network of resources.

The problem with the way my mind works? Sometimes it is not my place to find the solution. Sometimes what I need to do is guide others to a solution. Take Chris for an example. He might share a problem with me and the last thing he wants me to do is try to solve it. He just wants me to listen. So I take my hands and sit on them, and listen. Or at least I try to. Deep down I am probably still trying to solve it, but keeping my mouth shut. Other times whether with colleagues or with friends, their problems again are not always ours to solve. We can make suggestions or ask questions, but we cannot always solve the actual problems.

As I write this I see how much better I could be at listening — to Chris, my colleagues, and friends. Coaching sometimes means asking questions such as: Have you thought about ______? Or, have you looked at the other side of the problem? Or, maybe even saying: Put yourself in their shoes, would you handle something differently? I know I can do better at listening, I can do better at formulating questions to get others to think more. Maybe that is part of going from managing to leading.

I love the spiral that sometimes happens when you start writing about one topic and have an “aha” moment that leads you to see a gap or a hole in your life that might be a good area to focus on. I could be better about being directive to solve each problem, and take a step back to allow those that have the problems to resolve them on their own. Listen more, ask questions, and reflect.

#problemsolver

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