During my training seminars the theme of how to fix workplace problems arises frequently. We tend to be fixers in our culture and, from an early age, we are taught to confront any problem with an immediate fix. This greatly affects how we deal with challenges in our workplaces. If a colleague asks us for help or just wants us to listen to him or her we often jump to an unsolicited fix. When employees talk with us about our behavior we frequently react by looking for a fix rather than learning more about ourselves.
We do a whole lot of fixing and not as much thinking and reflecting. This leads to an approach to workplace interactions where everyone reacts to everything rather than pausing a bit and doing some thoughtful planning beforehand.
While I like resolving issues as much as the next person it’s also important to devote some attention and importance to just working on things without fixing them immediately. The next time someone comes to you with a problem in your workplace, consider the following possibilities:
1. Listen without interrupting or offering advice.
2. Give yourself permission not to fix anything.
3. Let the person talk to you freely and give them the time to do so.
4. Even if you disagree, don’t rebut or become defensive.
5. Learn to recognize the things that trigger your defensiveness or anger.
6. Offer to listen to the person again in the future.
7. Always remain calm and kind.
The act of listening changes the whole dynamic in workplace interactions. Suddenly you can learn what other people really think and simply bond with them. This strategy is different because it requires that, instead of talking or jumping in, you just let someone else tell you about the things they find meaningful. This approach greatly reduces hurt feelings and anger because it encourages you to react calmly to anything another person says and helps the other person feel important. What will you do to fix problems in the workplace more effectively?