Problems… issues… challenges… whatever your term of choice is.
Whether you’re helping a client professionally or a friend informally (or even trying to work out what to do for yourself), it’s worth remembering a few things.
People are remarkably unaware of what their real issues are. This is not because they are stupid or vexatious: they simply don’t know. Call it a blind spot, if that helps. If you ask them what the problem is, you’ll probably get one or more of the following
A suggested solution. Nobody’s problem is “I need X”. What they have is a problem which they believe can be solved by X. (When I was an IT consultant X was usually “a database”: the universal panacea.) The immediate help they need is to identify the problem. Whether X turns out to be the solution is irrelevant at this stage.
A symptom. Of course the symptom may be a problem in itself, and it may need fixing, but it is a problem, not the problem. Please see this story about a drill.
A real problem. It’s tempting to think that this is the problem, but it is always worth introducing the idea that problems have layers and asking the question:
If there were a deeper problem underlying this problem, what might it be?
And, if you get the response, “I don’t know”, persist and ask the question:
If you were to know what it was, what would it be?
Both these questions need a certain amount of skill in the asking if they are not to irritate, but a willing respondent will find them very enlightening.
The largest number of layers I have gone down with a client was six before I sensed that asking another time would not be fruitful.
The purpose is to facilitate insight.
> Drill [story]
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . added 26 april 2015 . image: Free images
I know I go on a bit at times! This is the fourth of what will be many short pieces, each restricted to 300 words, and each about a key topic in the worlds of emotional intelligence or work or both. The title is named for Krzysztof Kieślowski, who directed a couple of excellent films in the eighties with the name, A short film about…