The person has a problem.
You make a suggestion.
“But, that won’t work” they quickly reply. Or, “But, my case is different” they say. Or, they helplessly offer, “But, I can’t do that.”
In other words, no matter what you suggest…they are stuck in the problem.
You suspect that your continued suggestions are going to be met by continued objections based on what they can’t do.
Then, put the ball in their court and, in a very positive, non-judgemental tone, simply ask:
“So, what can you do?”
This is a pattern interrupt that will most likely elicit a “what?”
Now, gently respond, “We know what you can’t do, or what won’t work. Let me ask, if you were counseling someone else and it was up to you to come up with a solution, what would you suggest?”
It’s not that they will necessarily come up with an immediate answer, but you’ve now shifted the frame from “why it can’t” to “how it could.”
It doesn’t stop there. You still need to help them understand this new frame; that there are options even if right now they’re not seeing them. And, that what you want to do is — working with them — help them to figure something out. For this to happen, it needs to come from a positive “how it can” rather than “why it can’t.”
This assumes, of course, that they really do want to find a solution rather than stay stuck in the problem. You might even need to ask them to make sure. Providing that is the case, however, this new frame will provide a great deal of assistance.
Have you ever utilized this method in order to help someone overcome a challenge? Perhaps even used this on yourself?
Please share your experiences with us.