Every day any number of issues cross my path. Personal, professional. Big, small. The same is true for all of us. Friends confide in us. Colleagues process through issues with us. Angry people vent to us.
A large portion of my job is to handle those issues.
But there are times when those issues are not mine to resolve. There are times when my role is to listen and to support but to stay quiet.
I tend to leap to trying to solve any problem in front of me, and that is not always the right thing to do.
I was reminded this week (okay last week…remember that technology ate the first version of this blog) that sometimes the best thing to do is to pause and give others the space to solve their own problems.
I am actually taking opportunities away from my friends and my colleagues when I suggest a solution. First of all, my idea may very well not be as good as the idea from the person most directly involved. Second, we get better every time we have to wrestle with a hard decision or tackle a difficult situation ourselves.
I have had amazing coaches and leaders in my life who have forced me to solve my own problems. As many times as I have wanted to be “rescued” by someone else when faced with something hard, I have grown the most when left to handle it myself. I need to allow the space necessary for people to work things out themselves.
Another thing happens when we insert ourselves in situations that are not ours to own. We take on the emotion and the stress of the situation. I believe empathy and compassion are essential. We are better people when we care. But taking on the stress of a situation that is not ours is not healthy. We have enough of our own issues and enough of our own stress.
When I am working through an issue, there are moments when I need to give myself space to remove the emotional response, sort out my feelings on an issue, and plan for my next steps.
And I need to pause long enough to give others the same opportunity. It “doesn’t diminish the relationship. It is really quite the opposite.”