This is the third in a “trifecta” of thoughts sparked by the reading of David Rock’s Your Brain at Work.  As mentioned all this week, his book on neurobiology and brain function is quite reinforcing of the ways of being, thinking and taking action that are the focus of The Power of TED*.

In the last post, we explored the importance of focusing on solutions rather than problems.  But there’s a catch when it comes to how solutions get generated and who “owns” the responsibility for coming up with them.

In the chapter entitled “When Other People Lose the Plot,” Rock points out, “Because problem-solving can be exhausting, it’s logical to want to conserve energy and head straight to solutions.  The difficulty with this strategy is that when trying to help some else solve a problem, people often end up simply providing a set of solutions to the other person…  The source of the difficulty here lies in who comes up with the solution.”

Jumping to solutions – specifically other people’s solutions – often ends up engaging the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT).  The person facing the problem or challenge is in the Victim role.  In offering solutions to them, you are either going to show up as a Rescuer (implying that they are not able to come up with an outcome on their own) or as a Persecutor (making them feel “dumb” for not having a solution).  When this happens, the chances are high that defensiveness will ensue and drama will unfold.

To support others in generating solutions from a Creator Orientation takes patience.

Rock continues, “Despite the inefficiency of giving advice, people rush to dish out solutions because waiting for someone to come up with their own ideas requires effort… You have to hold back your desire to solve the problem yourself, which takes inhibition, an energy-hungry process.”

It takes energy to be a Creator and to support others in generating outcomes as either a Coach or a Challenger.  In both roles, it is essential to see the other as a Creator in their own right.  As a Challenger, you might say something like “I know you are capable of finding a solution here and I am happy to support you in that process.”

It is especially useful to move into the Coach role and to help them brainstorm outcomes and solutions by asking questions that helps them tap their own inner resourcefulness.

One last quote from David Rock: “The more you can help people find their own insights, the easier it will be to help others be effective… Instead of thinking about people’s problems and giving feedback or making suggestions, change can be facilitated faster in many instances if you think about people’s thinking, and help others think about their own thinking better.  However, letting go to the default approach to problem-solving requires working against the way your brain want to go…”

So, rather than jumping to solutions, engage your Challenger and Coach in supporting others in generating their own outcomes.


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