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Warning: Don’t Trust, “It’s Simple!”

Recently, I was seeking counsel with an “expert” in her field. My problem was only getting worse and was affecting me enough to know I needed help in a big way.

At our first session together, right after we shook hands (and discussed remuneration), she looked deep into my eyes and said, “My take is your challenge, no matter what it is, is simple. And, my job is to help you see that and find answers.”

It's a snap, sir!

My first reaction was to grab my money and run!

My second was to look for a hidden camera and see if I was being “Punk’d”. I was almost sure that it had gone off the air, but this was bizarre enough to make me wonder.

And my third, was to just sit there, not trusting, but interested in learning how this person came to believe her answer was, well, the answer.

Wow, I thought, maybe I have finely discovered the person who will hand me the meaning of life, one word on an index card … SIMPLE!

Why was I having such a hard time with SIMPLE? Why did my challenge(s) seem pretty damn, well, challenging?

How could she know the answer was simple before even knowing the situation, background or what the challenge might be in the first place.

My feelings were “simply” discounted. They were put in a slot called “quick fix” or “I get this all the time and I can handle it with my back turned to you” point of view.

Why did I feel like I was going to get a fortune cookie answer and yet have to pay a fortune for it.

I’m was certain I was just another number on another busy day of numbers who were just like me. I could almost hear her scream, “Another challenge solved! Next!”

I assume she was posturing her competency and expertise. However, as a result of her opening statement, I felt her fee was inflated. If it was so simple, why was I paying so much?

Then, it hit me.

And I felt uneasy when I thought about just how easy it is was to do exactly what the “expert” had done to me. How many times, for whatever reasons, do we not invest the time in listening, probing and being empathetic that we, as leaders, know we should. We all do it, and probably more often than we are aware of.

How many times do we have answers before we even listen? How many times do we start with “that’s easy” or “no problem” or “everybody knows what to do about that”? Where’s the understanding? The empathy? The head nod of an acknowledgement that this could at least be difficult for the other person?

Most importantly, who are we to discount or even question another person’s challenges, feelings or pain?

Someone has put there trust in you to confide in you in the first place. There is nothing simple about earning and sustaining trust.

And, there is nothing more difficult than regaining it once it is broken.

Use your ears. Use your heart. What may be easy or simple for someone else, including you, may be the hardest thing in the world for the one(s) confiding in you.

Think about it. Practice. Share your thoughts.

PS – I simply did not, nor will I go back to this “expert” again.

><(("> Tom Laughon
Tom is affectionately known as BIG ><(("> at Catch Your Limit

Catch Your Limit
Management Guides & Fish Cleaning Services
><(("> Camps in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia
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Posted in Leadership.

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  1. Kathleen Wilson says

    So, Tom, are you going to satisfy our curiosity and tell us whether you left or if you stuck it out? Since I’ve been using a professional coach for the first time in my life, I’m especially interested. He has never once told me ANYTHING is simple. Darn, almost wish he would once in awhile.

  2. Tom Laughon says

    Oh, I stayed through the first visit while the plan/process/cost was represented. I didn’t ask a lot of questions, because I knew I would be back. And, that was that! Thanks for reading and commenting. Visit us often and keep the conversations going.

  3. Gayle Turner says

    As a young account executive you burned my hide when ever I said, “All you have to do is…” It’s a common response when people want to make others feel comfortable to tell them their problem is no big deal. It’s counter intuitive, but it is just insulting. Thank you Stuart Sanders for teaching me never to discount someone’s pain. I didn’t quite understand your response above. Are you going back to see this person?

  4. Tom Laughon says

    Let me be very clear. It was simply over the second this “expert” said, “It’s simple”.

  5. Patrick Garinger says

    Great reflective thinking. I am constantly challenged – as what I know may well prevent me from what I need to know. Listen -ask questions

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