By Renita Garrett | Senior Manager
In Finding Your Voice Part I, we talked about having the courage to give our thoughts and ideas life. We walked through starting small and offering support for another’s idea, getting comfortable with challenging and disagreeing, and most importantly, creating an environment that enables others to speak up and share.
So now we are speaking up, but are we using our newfound power for good and taking a solution-focused approach? Or are we wasting our breath with dead-end observations (i.e. complaints). Remember, as Peter Parker’s wise Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Now we explore how the power of voice can be used as tool to affect change.
Problem-Oriented vs. Solution-Oriented
Solution-oriented thinking is not a one size fits all approach, and there are subtleties and nuances that will influence the overall outcome; however, the foundation is universal. The basic approach is to be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented. I can almost hear you blinking and saying, “Wait, is that it?” Yes – that is it!
It has been shown that negative language can affect our brain chemistry, and that we are born with an inherent negative bias – something my coworker Omar Khan discussed in his recent blog post, “The Unconscious Biases Impacting Your Business”. In addition, a 2016 USC Dornsife psychology study found a downward trend over the past two centuries in people’s tendency to use positive words. Now before you think I’m getting all “new age” on you, take a moment and think about the last three conversations or meetings that you had…Did you hear the words:
- “We can’t…”
- “That won’t work…”
Was there similar negative language? How did you feel? What was the energy of the room during the discussion? Let’s take a look at a potential scenario and how an alternative perspective could be used to change the whole experience.
So now we are speaking up, but are we using our newfound power for good and taking a solution-focused approach?
Scenario: A new system will be deployed to the organization and change management is presented as a key factor in a successful deployment. Kevin proposes that senior leaders should be interviewed to gather data about the organization. There have been issues aligning senior leadership in the past, and you are unsure about this approach.
Problem-oriented response: “They will never sit down with you, they are too busy and don’t like this type of stuff.”
Solution-oriented response: “Perhaps we can work with executive admins to find the best way to get on their calendars or find existing meetings to leverage their time – I know in our previous deployments we faced scheduling challenges. Also, we may consider presenting the importance of change management to all levels in the company.”
Why this works: Presenting possible solutions to overcome issues creates the opportunity to find more solutions. When someone completely shuts down an idea, have you noticed how the life gets sucked out of a room and conversation stops? However, acknowledging the issue and presenting possible ways to mitigate the challenge, will encourage more conversation, hopefully driving to a better solution.
Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, talks about the importance of believing in the possible, and that most things we complain about are actually situations we can change. When shift our brain from a negative context to a positive, solution-focused framework, it starts doing the work of finding creative possibilities for us. Find a way today to flex your solution-oriented mindset and unleash your creativity – using the power of your voice to positively affect change.