Are you a fixer?
When we see someone else struggling, most of us assume that fixing the problem is the best way to help.
Most of the time, this is just plain wrong.
Even if you find a quick solution for the other person, it’s not a long-term recipe for success. It’s actually a recipe for you becoming exhausted and people around you becoming overly dependent on you to fix all their problems.
You = Everyone’s Problem Solver = Exhausting. Sound familiar?
Instead of constantly swooping in to solve problems, try practicing empathy instead.
I (Vanessa) decided to do an experiment with my husband for a week where I followed the 4 steps below every time he complained about a situation at work.
It was nothing short of miraculous! I kid you not.
All of a sudden, my husband started opening up to me in a way he hadn’t in a long time. As soon as I stopped trying to solve all his problems, and just practiced empathy, he started sharing more and more. He felt more understood, and I felt so much closer to him since he was opening up.
To become a more empathic listener, follow these four steps from Vanessa’s article in Forbes:
1. Perspective Taking.
Listening to the truth as other people experience it and acknowledging it as the truth.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person or see the situation exactly as they see it. It simply means that you can acknowledge that they have their own perspective and their truth is just as true as your truth.
2. Stay out of Judgment.
If someone is struggling with an area we struggle with ourselves, we’re more likely to judge that person. To stay out of judgment requires understanding the areas where we’re the most vulnerable to feeling shame or “not good enough” ourselves.
In her latest online course, Brene Brown shares; “We don’t judge in areas where our sense of self-worth is stable and secure.” Empathic listeners are mindful of their own triggers and issues and how that impacts their judgment.
For example, if you’re really impatient with yourself, you’re likely to be impatient with others and feel frustrated they aren’t getting results fast enough. Noticing this judgment and coming back to a more neutral stance is a prerequisite for empathy.
3. Recognize Emotion.
When someone on your team or someone you care about is struggling with something, try to understand how the person feels. You can even ask; “How is this situation making you feel?”
4. Communicate Emotion.
Once you’ve identified what the other person is feeling, communicate it back to them by saying; “That must have been so hard, I can see how you’d feel sad/angry/etc.”
You can read the full Forbes article HERE.
The next time someone comes rushing up to you complaining about a problem, instead of trying to fix it, practice empathy using the four steps above. We bet you’ll be surprised by the results!