Don't fix it!
Jim, a pipefitter foreman for a Northwest mechanical contracting company, told Session 6 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“My Pearl is my wife, the ‘Goddess.’ As a goddess, she is very introspective, creative, spiritual and sensitive. I am just the opposite. I am a ‘get it done’ guy. I am far better at fixing things than meditating. In the past, when my wife had a problem, I would jump in like the hero I want to be and try to ‘fix it.’ This seldom worked and as a result usually frustrated both of us.
“Since learning about being an ‘active listener’ (Leadership Principle #6), I have applied this principle with my wife. Just last week she told me about something that was troubling her. She explained in great detail what had happened, how it affected her, and her feelings about it. I was tempted to interrupt her before she was even finished telling me all about it to ‘fix’ the problem. Instead, I sat quietly, listening intently, showing that I cared and really did want to understand all the details and understand how the experience made her feel.
“When she finished, I remained quiet. Oh yes, you could have heard a pin drop. I am not sure how it felt to the goddess; it sure felt awkward to me. Truth be told, I was biting my tongue. After a few moments of silence, my wife asked me for my opinion and what I would do. Wow! That was quite a shift! We discussed the problem situation and some possible solutions. I didn’t try to fix it; I just offered her encouraging support.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is the importance of listening, caring and showing my support. I have found myself practicing this with others, including my crew.
They have feelings too, and sometimes they too just need to vent. The action I call you to take is to be aware of the other person’s need to be heard. Be an active listener; don’t interrupt with your answers, opinions and judgments. The benefit you will gain is improved communication and increased trust with all of the important people in your life.”
Listening, really listening, is one of the most acknowledging and supportive things we can do for the important people in our lives. When you listen, you say, “Your story is important to me. What you have to say matters; you matter.”
The next time someone is pouring their heart out in pain or trying to sort out where to go, what to do next, why not say to yourself, “the fix is in silence.” If you must speak, why not start this way – “Well, what do you think?”
Introducing Turbo’s Newest Workshop
“Putting The ‘Super’ In Superintendent”
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