How to solve people problems
I have a problem with someone at work. They take every available opportunity to put me down, gossip about me, or make snide comments. I can't leave this job, but I don’t want to create drama by going to my boss. I've got to find a solution to this problem. Any ideas?
I would like to recommend a simple, solution-focused process that can help you find solutions to most problems. Many of the questions sent into me at KSL could be easily solved, on your own, by following this simple process.
(If you don’t currently have a pressing people problem, you may want to print this article off and save it anyway, because you will surely have one soon enough.)
I believe we are here on this planet to learn and especially to learn to love both ourselves and other people. Most of the people in your life — and especially the difficult ones — are there primarily to teach you how to love at a deeper level. Difficult people make for amazing learning opportunities.
Get out some scratch paper and follow the process below to find the right solution to this one.
1. Define the problem. You must make sure you really understand the problem. We often assume a lot of things about other people that we don't really know. You might want to ask some more questions and make sure you understand the other person and what is going on in their world. Figure out what they are afraid of (failure or loss) and what they are really trying to accomplish with their current behavior. Are they trying to protect themselves, get validation or just prove they have value? Are they threatened by you? Do they suffer from low self-esteem? Is there any other reason they might be grouchy or unhappy?
2. See if this problem could be broken down into smaller problems. Sometimes problems are more easily solved in pieces. How could you break this one down?
3. Get your fear of failure or loss off the table. If this situation is triggering your fear of not being good enough, it will muddle your ability to see the situation accurately. You can escape fear by choosing to trust that this experience is here to serve you, which means it is meant to be solved. Trust the process of life that however it turns out, it will be OK. Then, choose to trust that your value is infinite and absolute and not affected by this problem. Remember you have the same value no matter what happens. You must get in trust so you can function from a place of clarity.
4. Define the outcome you want. Make sure this is a well-thought-out, unemotional objective that is based in love for yourself and the other person involved. Sometimes the right solution means loving yourself and sometimes it means showing up with love for the other person, but the right solution should be love motivated — not fear motivated.
5. Brainstorm as many possible solutions as you can. Shoot for 50. This will force you to think outside the box and get really creative about all your options. Don't censure, edit or judge your ideas just yet. Write them all down. Who could you ask for help? Write down as many people as you can think of. What other resources are available to you? Write them all down.
6. Bring humor into the situation. This may sound funny but it’s been scientifically proven that humor improves your ability to solve problems. A study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that people who just watched a funny movie could solve difficult problems 75 percent of the time, while those who watched a movie about math beforehand, only solved it 20 percent of the time. So, make this process fun. Laugh and play with your possibilities while you brainstorm as many solutions as you can.
7. Now, go through your list and cross out all the fear-motivated options. (All the selfish, reactive, destructive or unloving ideas must go.)
8. Now, cross off all the impractical or impossible ideas too. (These were helpful because they often trigger some creative ideas that are possible.)
9. See if you can narrow the remaining options down to your top few. Write each on a card and place them in front of you on the table.
10. Now, see if you can eliminate one that doesn’t feel right. Do it again and eliminate one more. Are there some options that you just can't eliminate? That could be your intuition telling you what to do.
The truth is that you are entitled to intuition about the best course of action in every specific situation. If you trust that you are entitled to guidance and believe it will be there, you will feel it.
(I have clients who use this process to solve all kinds of problems, not just people problems — give it a try.)
Most people problems come down to these two loving options, though.
1. Let it go. Decide to forgive the person for being scared, imperfect or blind to their behavior. Decide to give them permission to be work in progress and choose to see the highest best in them. Most of the time (if you can do this) it is the best option.
2. Have a loving conversation with this person and try to resolve the issue. If you choose this route, follow the steps for mutually validating conversations click here to access a worksheet on how to do that.
Hope this helps.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.