The Problem is Rarely THE Problem.

The Problem is Rarely THE Problem.

Mannnnny Moons ago my Coach advised me that:

‘The problem the client brings to the call is never the real problem”.

She has proved to be endlessly right.

What to do.

  1. Start from a position of enquiry and curiosity that the person has not fully dug down to the source of the issue – as that is really difficult to do in ones own head.
  2. Getting to the source is often a function of the climate in which, the issue is unpacked. That explains why groups tell me ‘we would never had got to where we are now’ (in this hotel venue), if they’d tried to conduct the enquiry in the office. Different thinking requires a different space. (No wonder Einstein used to sail his dinghy on Lake Geneva when trying to figure out a problem).
  3. Let go of jumping in with both feet to feel useful just by hearing yourself speak. Say nothing whilst the person is wrestling; don’t interrupt, don’t intrude in the space, don’t squash. Let the person come forth in the silence.  It’s often here that the Truth really comes out.
  4. Recognise bringing a difficult conversation to the surface is an iterative process for many people, they want a hand to gently get to the source – its like a partnership. (One of my girls prefers her elastoplasts to be ripped off in one quick hit, the other likes it ever so gently prised away!)
  5. Be kind. It may seem trivial to you, but you are not them.

How to know you are not doing enough of 1-5 above?

You will hear yourself and others say;

“If only we had dug a bit deeper on this one”.


Paul Fox
Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.

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