Wise Beyond Your… Ears
Recently I conducted an offsite with a talented leadership team in the banking industry. We engaged in healthy and robust discussion on the notion of “fixing”. As it turned out, most of us confessed that we were indeed fixers. When someone you’re leading comes to you with a challenge, problem or upset, what do you do? Odds are you immediately shift to fix-it mode. After all, the title on your business card translated from ancient Hebrew or Greek really means, “He or She who fixes practically everything”. But is it wise to be the fix-it lightning rod?
According to the late Dr. Thomas Gordon, creator of Leader Effectiveness Training© (L.E.T.), your early helping or fixing reactions are in actuality usually considered roadblocks. Dr. Gordon termed them Roadblocks to Communication. Reacting and prescribing with little information often causes the real problem/issue to remain buried while time and energy is utilized chasing surface issues. Leaders often waste time grappling in symptoms management. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, they end up wrestling with the fruit of the problem. And little progress is achieved.
What if your people (family included) began fixing their own problems? Wouldn’t you really have more time to lead the way you want to? And wouldn’t your people (family included) be more empowered, healthier and less dependent? Sounds good, but how?
The answer really is as simple and as powerful as this . . . just listen. In his book titled, Just Listen, author Dr. Mark Goulston suggests that when you encounter a person with a problem or an upset, what they really need is “breathing room”, not your quick fix. Before the brain can be creative it must first shift out of primitive mode. It has been “hijacked” temporarily by emotions (let’s not forget our terrific teenagers who fall prey to strong emotions at times). The person with the problem needs to be allowed to, “emotionally exhale” according to Goulston.
The best skill I have encountered that truly helps another exhale is Dr. Thomas Gordon’s, Active Listening. Simple but not easy, Active Listening causes others to better understand and fix their own problems often restoring them to a state of equilibrium and productivity. Because a skill like Active Listening is so crucial to your effectiveness, career success and the well-being of others, it is worth your active consideration.
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