In a recent post we looked at the importance of listening. Just listening; not problem-solving.
While there are times that proactively helping someone solve a problem is very legitimate, paradoxically, not trying to solve a problem is often the best way to have it solved. By simply listening (allowing the other person to be heard) the problem often simply dissolves. Or, just as well, the person solves the problem themselves, which empowers them and helps build another leader.
As mentioned, I’ve had to work very hard at improving myself in this area. When someone comes to me with a problem, I still have to fight my inclination to go into fixing-mode and, instead, just listen. Writing the previous post reminded me of a recent situation in that regard.
On a speaking trip there was a logistical mix-up in one city that caused some distress for the person who planned the meeting, as well as for me. It was really nothing more than a miscommunication but it caused some negative feelings for the meeting planner, and she wanted to speak with Kathy and me personally in order to bring some closure to it.
We did a three-way conference call and she began to relate the story from her point of view. Knowing that some information had been related to her by our mutual client and desiring to put her mind at ease, I began to explain what had happened. Naturally, I did this feeling that — by telling her this — she’d feel better, realizing I understood she was not at fault.
Suddenly, I noticed my Skype Instant Message pop up with a message from Kathy. It simply said:
“Bob, I think she really just needs to be listened to right now. :-)”
Point taken. Kathy was right. She simply needed to be heard. She had been frustrated by feeling that her actions had been misunderstood and simply needed us to listen. Satisfied that was now the case, all was fine.
Meanwhile, I still have a ways to go in the “listening…really just listening” department. 🙂