Jan 12, 2023
When someone comes to you with a problem, do you listen with the
intent to help, or do you
want to fix it? There's a difference.
You are not a vending machine for answers, no matter how good that might feel to you. I want
you to flip the situation and think about being the person who needs to be heard.
Have you ever needed someone to listen and not fix?
I have a colleague I enjoy talking with as long as we aren't discussing a problem I'm having.
When I come to her with a problem, she wants to 'fix' it for me. At least, that's how I perceive it.
Let me give you a few examples:
If I say... "I'm not sure what I should do about xyz.", her first response is, "Well, I think you
should..." followed by a list of to-dos.If I say, "I'm feeling icky about this problem.", she'll chime in with a story about how she had a
similar problem with a similar feeling and how she handled it.
If I'm struggling with a mistake and I need to process it, she'll immediately find the silver lining
and tell me why I should focus on that instead of my feelings.
Her responses leave me feeling, at best, unheard and, at worst like she's trying to one-up me
with her struggles.
Do you know someone like this?
The truth is, I've been both the person with the problem and the non-helpful colleague.
Providing solutions, sharing a story, or finding a silver lining can be helpful...sometimes.
But often, what people need most is someone to listen and let them figure out what comes next.
Listening with the intent to help means not offering unwanted
advice, affirming vs. one-upping,
or acknowledging hard feelings instead of painting a silver lining around a turd.
There's a difference between listening to help and listening to fix.
Be a helper, not a fixer.
If you found today’s Crash Course helpful, please share it with your colleague. If you want more
content and resources for communication, make sure to sign up for the email newsletter at
pswithalex.com. If you’d like to learn more about using communication as your competitive
advantage, schedule a time to talk with me here.
Until next time, take care and keep talking!
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