Listening to problem solve

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Listening to problem solve

You have probably heard the saying about us having 2 ears and 1 mouth and the implication of that. We all know we should listen to really hear, despite it often being a challenge in our busy lives. I wanted to take the opportunity today to show how powerful it is though, if you take the time to do it properly, particularly in your key work relationships.

I have been working with an actuarial client for a few months. This person was worried, as they had received some negative feedback last year from a junior contractor in a team they work closely with.

Unfortunately, not only had this reached very senior people heading up that team and their own team, it had affected the day-to-day working relations with the other team. This may be in part because my client felt they were always on the back foot, so it was affecting their behaviour (see The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy diagram below) which would be likely to in turn affect the other team’s behaviour. I didn’t meet them, but potentially if my client was anxious/cautious this showed in her behaviour which then affected their behaviour, potentially reducing their confidence in my client and their team’s work.

My client and I talked about the approach and it was decided that the best way forward would be to arrange monthly meetings with the leader of the other team. I suggested to my client that at the start they should state they were keen to work better together as 2 teams and just listen to what this team leader had to say to find out what that person really felt and where they were coming from. My client could then go away, reflect on what that person said and come up with ways to work with the other team better.

My client was surprised, as she felt they were on the back foot, there seemed to be a pressure to ‘act’ to fix the issues, so just listening felt a bit strange. However, it worked a treat and to cut a long story short, after only a short period of time the 2 teams are working together much better and the other team leader has proactively commented on the improvements. Importantly, it now feels like there is a dialogue between them and a positive, respectful professional relationship.

This is what my client said about our work together:

“I decided to seek Joanna’s help following some setbacks with key relationships at work last year. I have had four political intelligence and personal impact sessions, coached and guided by Joanna, and I learned so much. Joanna provided practical examples and advice on how to tackle some key relationships with my work colleagues and key stakeholders. I have started implementing my agreed actions with Joanna and have experienced some positive results. I immensely enjoyed the sessions, and would thoroughly recommend Joanna if anyone would like to develop or improve on building key relationships or on personal brand and impact.” Anonymous, Head of Actuarial Reporting, Large Corporate.

2 key things to consider here in relation to listening and listening deeply first when there is a problem:

  • To get a clear understanding of what the challenges are from the other person’s point of view to help you work on the right solution.
  • To make sure the person feels heard, often when people have negative emotions, giving them the chance to express those emotions helps to move on from/reduce the problem.

Sounds easy right? When was the last time you really spent time listening to solve a challenge?

If you’d like to consider what contributes to career success and progression which includes building strong professional relationships and you’d like to receive my ‘Top Tips To Boost Your Career Success’, you can request them here.

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