Tag Archives: empathy

My Way Highway

“So, the solution to the productivity problem with my team requires curiosity?” Dalton wanted to confirm.

“Yes, become a curious child,” I nodded. “You see, you have grown up to an adult and your inner critic has become very sophisticated. Your judge has no empathy for you, your judge only wants resolution, even if your resolution doesn’t work. To reach a real resolution, you have to become a curious child.”

“You don’t mean childish?” Dalton wanted to know.

“No, I want you to see yourself as a child, have empathy for that child. Give yourself permission, yes, even permission to fail. With that, you open the doors to discovery. You have a very real problem with your team’s productivity. There are many alternatives between my way or the highway.

Moving from Calm

“Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast,” I repeated. “How do you find calm?”

“That’s a very strange question,” Dalton replied. “Every part of my body wants to move fast. My manager wants this fixed, now.”

“Let’s temporarily set your manager aside,” I said. “What, inside of you, makes you want to fix this now?”

Dalton struggled with the question. He finally breathed. “If I don’t fix this, now, I will have failed. I was just promoted to manager two months ago, I was proud. Now I am failing. Maybe I was promoted by mistake. Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a manager.”

“Which part of you is thinking that?” I asked. “What part of you is telling you that?”

Dalton’s eyes darted the room, looking for an answer. His vision finally settled in his lap. “It’s just a feeling, a tightness in my chest,” he finally said. “I feel it now. It feels bad, and as long as I feel this way, I don’t know what move to make.”

“Who else do you think you might disappoint?”

“I think about my father. He passed away seven years ago, but he is still on my mind.”

“And, what would your father say to you right now?”

“He wouldn’t judge me. He would probably tell me that he had confidence in me.”

“Can you give yourself permission to say the same thing?” I asked.

Dalton thought, and nodded. “Yes.”

“Then, we can move to the next step,” I said.

“There is a next step?”

I Already Had the Answer

“So, you didn’t like the idea?” I asked.

“No, and I should have listened to my sales-guy,” Rory replied. “We spent a bunch of engineering time creating a perfect solution that the customer didn’t want. We thought the prototype would WOW them to our way of thinking. All it did, was drive them to our competitor.”

“If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?”

“First, I would listen. Before the problem was completely explained, I thought I already had the answer. I missed some key elements in the problem.”

“And, what else?”

“I think,” Rory glanced to the ceiling and back to me, “that I have to suspend my own judgement for a while. I have to see the problem from the customer’s perspective. Until I can see that, I will make the decision according to my criteria, instead of developing criteria from the customer’s perspective.”

The problem you solve is the problem you name. Make sure you name the right problem. -Pat Murray