Monthly Archives: March 2005

Being Not Doing

My coach has a great way of characterizing things. Yesterday at our meeting, we talked about some of the things I was interested in changing in my life going forward.
One of my favorites was what I called “problem solving” which I was determined to stop doing. What I mean by “problem solving” is the tendency for us to react to a problem we see someone else having by giving instantly the answer to the problem.
This would be ok except that “problem solving” tends to have tons of negative effects. It makes people feel bad because often we just want to talk about stuff to get it off our chest and then we have this person telling us the “answer”. Which makes us feel like we’re stupid for not thinking of the “answer”, or makes us feel that this person is an idiot for coming up with the “answer” when they obviously haven’t even gotten the full picture yet. This and much more.
My coach had a wonderful way of characterizing this. This is what she called “Doing”.
“Doing” is taking action. You solve the problem and turn the issue back on the speaker. You don’t need to share your thoughts and feelings, or even empathize. Thus, you are in a place of safety whereas your friend has just spilled their guts and you unknowingly have stepped all over them.
However, something that I’ve been working really hard is not “problem solving.” Amazing that I could just sit and have dinner with someone, and actually never “problem solve.” I just sit there and listen, share my thoughts and feelings, and then they do the same, and repeat repeat and then the night’s over and we both had a great time catching up.
No problem solving. No stepping on anyone’s toes inadventantly.
Just a great time and great conversation. Amazing what this can do for a relationship.
This is what my coach calls “Being”. Just being present with another person. Connecting, sharing, empathizing, talking, relating.
Forget “problem solving”. Leave it at home or for another day. The world’s problems do not need to be solved every time. Sometimes it is not solving that is required but just relating and listening.
Try it sometime. You may be surprised at the results. I was and still am. And I am finding that I am deepening what relationships I still have left….