What do you want me to be for you?

The scenario is simple:  Someone comes to you with a moan about a situation or another person (or even a set of people)…  Something like:

“Sue and Steve completely ignored me again today during our team meeting!”

Immediately get curious about what the complainant wants – or needs.  Which is where the question in the headline of this article comes in.

You see, the complainant may want sympathy; They might need you to confirm how horrible Sue and Steve are. Or, they might require help in sorting out the situation… and there’s often no way of knowing. Part of the issue is that the complainant might NOT want what they desperately NEED.

So imagine you have just heard a complaint from someone.  Let’s look at the subject line question with more depth:

“What do you want me to be for you?”

  • Do you want sympathy and for me to say: “That must be horrible for you – and I totally understand why you’re upset. There, there!”
  • Do you want me to validate your complaint and say: “I’ve never liked either of those two… they are mean and nasty people”.
  • Do you want me to offer a palliative and say: “Perhaps they were just a bit focused on something else – I’m sure they’ll be OK with you next time”.
  • Do you want me to help expand your perception and say: “Was it just you they were ignoring or do they do this with everyone?
  • Do you want me to challenge your thinking and say: “Are you sure you were making your own point clearly and purposefully enough – remember, there are two sides to everything”.
  • Perhaps you want me to coach you on the point and say: “This has happened before – why do you think they behave in this way? What do you feel YOUR part in it might be?

It’s incredible how many different roles we COULD take in response.  And I am sure there are more and increasingly subtle versions of the responses above.

Which role do you USUALLY take?

Yoo wisdom: Check out your ‘usual’ role.  Ask yourself, what role do you default to?  Try the following:

Phase 1) Find yourself complaining to someone and notice what you actually want from the other person

Phase 2) Ask YOURSELF the question in your head… and then pass the answer on to the person in front of you (i.e. “I’d like you to help me understand MY part in this”)

Phase 3) Ask someone ELSE the question when they complain at you.  ESPECIALLY if you have heard the same complaint before!  Be ready to offer them an answer when they ask “What do you mean?” (because this is quite an enlightened concept – not everyone will ‘get it’ straight away).  Perhaps print this email out and go through the bullet points with them.

Be your best Yoo


Andy and the team at Yoo

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