Jean, one of my clients, was telling me she felt she was pulling the weight of one of her coworkers and now she was harboring negative thoughts and feelings about this person. The negativity kept festering and was interfering with their daily communication. I knew if she avoided confronting the situation much longer things would just get worse. I also knew what she needed to do to prevent that from happening but I had to bite my tongue from telling her what she should do.
I remembered how lousy I felt as an adult every time my mother told me I should do this or that. Even though I’m Jean’s coach, I knew shoulding on her wouldn’t help. I really needed to know more about her situation so I could ask the right questions that would help her discover how she wanted to handle it.
If you have ever wanted to help people without shoulding on them all you have to say is, “Tell me more.” These three words are very powerful. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.” By saying, “Tell me more,” you’re offering your attention and showing you care. These three words are also great when uncovering what a prospective customer may need or want.
Once I asked Jean to tell me more she went deeper into the details of what happened, how often it happened and how it affected her. She eventually decided she would talk to her coworker using a technique I call The E.D.A. Approach:
Explain how you feel or what you see
I’m really frustrated and angry.
Describe what happened WITHOUT the word YOU
I want to be sure we make our deadlines so I find myself doing your portion of the weekly report when it gets close to the cut-off date. I resent having to do this.
Ask for what you need/want
So, it would help me it if in the future I knew I could count on you to get your part done on time. If you need some help or we need a better process, please let me know so we can make that happen and I can feel less stressed about this important deadline.