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When is listening more powerful than solving a problem?

02 Sep 11:00 By Vicki Anne

Va Listening

“The next time you catch yourself complaining about something, stop and do something about it.”


For me, hearing someone complain about something and watching them NOT do anything about it is like nails down a blackboard.   I’m a problem solver, a solution provider. It’s who I am and it’s so deeply engrained that I’ve had to work extremely hard to not drive people nuts when they just want me to listen.  


Over time I realised that for some people, the very thought of stopping and doing something about it (the problem), can be paralysing. Conflicting thoughts start to wage war in their head.  “If I say something will I lose my job, will I lose respect where I want it most, will I lose that friendship, will I miss out on that promotion” and so on. For some the very problem they complain about is the one that validates them, dark but true.


We humans are complex creatures so being in a Management role, where you have a group of people all with their own unique quirks, is without doubt one of the more challenging positions you can find yourself in.  Finding the balance between giving someone the space to learn that complaining solves nothing vs fixing the problem yourself so they can experience the power of change is the key to you providing the best support you can for them.


I don’t have all the answers, but if you’re a bit like me, I’ve found that having the best systems and procedures in place can remove all types of complaints, especially if you can tweak them in the moment.   


And herewith lies my quandary. If people didn’t complain then the broken or complicated system or process would never evolve. 


Evolving and innovating is what keeps me alive so the only real solution is that sometimes you just have to listen.