To Solve or Not to Solve (Dec 2012)


BBI_beeLast week my husband and I spent a lovely weekday together. We went out for breakfast, shopped leisurely, stopped for a cappuccino and generally felt as though we were bunking school!

The occasion was his birthday. Last year we began a new tradition of both taking the day off to spend his whole birthday together. As his love language is Quality Time he really enjoys and appreciates this. And I have the bonus of enjoying it as well!

I was wondering who else does something on their birthday that makes it a definitely different day from the rest of the week?

To Solve or not to Solve?

The other day my daughter described something in her life that sounded like a problem. When she finished I remained quiet, processing what she’d said. She then went on to say, “You don’t need to solve it, I just needed to say it.” I was quite relieved! I had been thinking, “I don’t know what to suggest. What should I say?”

Her talking through the issue, and me hearing her, was far more important than her getting a solution at that point in time. For many of us that is a strange way of thinking. We are accustomed to going straight into solution mode.

Very often better solutions would be found if we first allowed more time for people to express their needs and feelings. We could be more helpful by asking some questions which focussed their thoughts. And, in giving them the time to think out loud, they may find their own solution, or just the acceptance of what is.  This applies both at home and at work.

During a workshop I was facilitating for managers we practised Fierce Conversations. These are structured conversations that allow us to confront tough issues with courage, compassion and skill. (If you are interested in the model see below.)

In this ten step method we name the issue in step one but we only talk about any sort of solution in step nine!

The delegates really struggled with this. They kept jumping to the solution before clarifying how they felt about it, or what was at stake, or eliciting the other person’s viewpoint. They also wanted to present the other person with the solution instead of allowing them to make suggestions.

If the problem is ‘solved’ in this manner the opportunity to be aware of alternative perspectives is missed. The other person hasn’t developed any of their own problem solving skills. And very often they are unwilling to change their behaviour to adopt your chosen solution.

I myself am a solution oriented person. I have had to work very hard at listening, asking appropriate questions and allowing others to find answers for themselves. However the results when I get it right are so exciting. The other person feels so much better about their own abilities, they often come up with amazing ideas and they are far more likely to go ahead and implement those ideas with enthusiasm.

There are of course times when you are in fact responsible for finding a solution, especially in a work environment. Even then the results maybe better if you involve a group of people in the discussion to find a solution. Letting go of the need to always have the solutions can be a big relief.

A possible new approach is:


Wishing you a happy and safe festive season. I will catch up with you later in January.

Kind Regards


© copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

News – new offerings coming in January

In April I wrote that I was reading a book called “Happiness at Work. Maximising your psychological capital for success” The content of this resonated so well with me as I often describe my vision as “productive, effective businesses with happy, engaged, fulfilled people working in them”. Since then I have accredited as a Science of Happiness at WorkTM expert.

This means that I have some great new, practical, diagnostic tools to help identify the most important areas for us to work on within your company as well as to be able to track the ROI on the chosen interventions.

For individuals I now have a great tool for identifying what is or isn’t bringing you happiness (satisfaction) at work. This helps us to be very focussed during our development session(s).

Watch out in the New Year for some introductory specials.

Fierce Conversations Model

OPENING STATEMENT (60s or less):

Your opening statement should:

  1. Name the issue.
  2. Select a specific example that illustrates the behaviour or situation you want to change.
  3. Describe your emotions about this issue.
  4. Clarify what is at stake.
  5. Identify your contribution to this problem.
  6. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue.
  7. Invite the other person to respond.


  1. Inquire into the other person’s views. Make sure the other person knows that you fully understand and acknowledge his or her position and interests.


  1. What have we learned? Where are we now? How can we move forward from here, given our new understanding?
  2. Make a new agreement and determine how you will hold each other responsible for keeping it.

From Fierce Conversations – Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

Quote of the Day

“I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way. The challenges we face in life are always lessons that serve our soul’s growth.” Marianne Williamson

My Little Black Book

Recently I arranged to meet a friend for afternoon coffee. I was craving a really good cappuccino so she suggested we meet at Tasha’s in the Nicolway Centre. It really was good and a welcome change after some very so, so ones. Where else can one get good ones? I want to make a “Good Cappuccino Venues” list!

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