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Solving difficult situations at work

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane…

Close your eyes and think of a time where you sat in a meeting at work trying to solve a tricky problem. My guess is, more often than not, the different departments sat around the table pointing fingers at other departments. No one could get a word in. No one listened. Everyone tried to prove they were right. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

I follow a woman on Instagram, her name is Dr. Becky Kennedy (IG Handle: @drbeckyatgoodinside). She is a children’s psychologist and I truly believe that a lot of what she says can be applied in many situations, especially business ones. Today I want to show you how one of her lessons can be applied in the business world. Dr. Becky says that none of us will be flexible until we feel understood and respected. 

Go back to that meeting (in your mind) and ask yourself the following questions: Were my colleagues listening to one another? Were they respecting one another? Were they trying to impose their beliefs on one another? Were they working together towards a solution? My guess is that it probably wasn’t a very collaborative meeting. The next time you are in a similar situation, I want you to remember a few things:

1. We can’t get to a solution if we are only pointing fingers 

Each department, each person views a situation in a unique way. When we are only discussing where the problem lies instead of helping identify a solution or working to understand the various perspectives at the table, then we, too, are a part of the problem. If everyone is pointing fingers, then every one is focusing on the problem and not working towards a solution.

2. We remain in our organizational silos if we don’t work together as a team

We often forget that while we may reside in a department, it is the collection of departments together that form the company. When we point fingers, we remove ourselves from the collective organization and into individual silos. Don’t forget that you are part of one company, one team, and we should be moving towards a solution together.

3. If we are always talking, we are never listening

It’s true - you can’t listen to what I am saying if you are trying to speak over me. When you continue to speak louder than me or say things like, “Just let me make this point.”, then you are telling me (and the team) that your point is more important than mine. Stop. Take a breath. LISTEN. You will learn so much, trust me. 

4. There is a reason why people believe what they believe 

Like I said before, everyone views a situation in their own unique way. They have a varied set of skillsets and experiences that allow them to see things differently than you. When we engage in active listening and see others opinions as valuable instead of just an opposing viewpoint, then we can finally start to see the whole picture (the whole problem). They might be seeing something you aren’t. Stop talking, open your ears, and ask questions.

Whether you are trying to solve a problem at work, working something through with your spouse, or dealing with your child, we will never get anywhere with them if our only tactic is to shove our viewpoint down their throats. I will end this blog with a quote from Dr. Becky, “when we prioritize being connected over being right we can start working against a problem instead of seeing each other as the problem.” So the next time you are in a tricky situation like this, I encourage you to connect with the people in the room by saying, “Tell me more.” or “Can you please help me understand what about my approach worries you?”. By doing so, we show others that we respect our colleagues, work to understand their viewpoints, and are flexible enough to work together to solve a problem. (Bonus: If you’re a manager think about how valuable of an example you will be setting for your employees.) 

I hope you enjoyed this blog! Part of what makes this possible is the sale of our children’s book, A Stay-at-Home Dad?, so don’t forget to grab a book on your way out! We give part of our profits back to working moms.