When someone is in a lot of career pain, they often seek out help from those around them. Parents, co-workers, and friends are called upon. The challenge is before they can share what is going on, their person has already made an assumption they know what is going on. Their colleagues may be too quick to provide judgment, give advice or jump in with their own issues:
- “Maybe you just need a holiday”
- “It’s OK, things will get better soon.”
- “Don’t worry about it, this too will pass.”
- “ You know what you need to do…”
- “That happened to me, here’s how it went…”
Unfortunately, the failure to listen can compound a person’s pain. Individuals facing career challenges begin to feel more isolated and alone. They can wonder what’s wrong with them and their confidence can spiral down.
In working with individuals I have received consistent feedback. It was always important that they were listened to. As I listened to them, they felt safe to share and more information came through the process. Effective listening encouraged each person to dig deeper and access important information that helped to clarify their situation. Hearing their career story in their own words was essential.
When I ask people how long they have been dealing with their career challenges, it is often over a year. They have been mulling things over so much that they get caught up in circles of chatter in their heads and they can’t make sense of it. The process of listening without judgment allows a calm to emerge. When a person has the opportunity to share, the reflections of their own words remove the fog. In some cases, you may help them solve the problem by simply listening. In all cases, you will help to feel heard.
What can you do?
The next time someone expresses a career challenge to you, stop and listen. Let go of the chatter in your own head; resist the temptation to solve their problem. Instead, consider opening the process by asking questions such as:
- “Tell me more about that…”
- “Spell that out further…”
- “Give me an example of…’
As the person shares, help them to hear what they are saying with phrases such as:
- “So the way you see it is…’
- “Let me make sure I’m understanding you… You’re saying…”
Don’t be afraid to get a reflection ‘wrong’. If you are not hearing what the person is saying, they will restate what they do mean.
Take the time to practice and put in place these listening steps. You will gain helpful insights into those around you. Let go of any need to ‘solve the problem’. If you listen effectively, chances are that they will solve their own issues with your support!
Need Career Help?
I help people who desire to change their career. To start this process, people need an action plan. My “Career Action Plan” promises to get to the root of your career problem. I provide a concrete plan to get the problem fixed. You will become empowered to take action because you have a plan designed for your unique situation. Contact me to book your session!
Photo of Leonard Cohen courtesy of Bill Strain