Thursday, May 19, 2011

Don't tell me, ask me how you can help

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue in cheek look at my life.*

While the Thursday posts are meant to be comical, this one is a bit more serious.  I consider myself to be of above average intelligence.  Not because I'm just naturally that way, but something happened when I hit thirty something:  I had enough life experiences, combined with an awakening of critical thinking, that I learned how to learn and listen.  That listening part is what makes you smarter (in my opinion).  Listening is a very hard skill.  Very hard.  I constantly have to remind myself to listen and sometimes it goes better than others.  I have learned (and tried to learn) things outside of my traditional schooling by listening and realizing others had experiences that I could learn from.

One of the things a former professor used to say was, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  Once you're a Roman, build it to suit yourself."  That's just a trumped up way of saying the more often thought of, "Seek first to understand, then be understood."  That mantra, along with intense listening skills, has in great part gotten me to where I am today.

There really is a point to all this I promise......

I own a couple other businesses.  (That's another blog post in of itself, but for another day.)  I have been lucky enough to hire a very highly qualified and motivated intern for one of them.  I say lucky, because I've been looking for someone who can afford to get paid with experience instead of a fat paycheck, and quite frankly, I've been coming up short (something I have a hard time understanding living in a college town).  There have been several projects on the back burner for this other business that I was excited to be able to give to the intern to make her own.

Alas, managing people is never easy. 

In our first meeting, where I had already given her a heads up of the first project that I wanted her to work on, she instead spent the first forty-five minutes going over a list of items that three-quarters of:
  1. I had already done and determined it didn't work.
  2. Wasn't a priority and didn't see why anyone else would think it was a priority.
  3. I was already doing (which I would have the expected the intern to have known that if she had done some research on the business)
Now don't get me wrong.  I'm very excited to have this intern on board.  However, it looks like the first project I should have given her:  listening exercises.

So this brings me to the moral that my husband hears me mutter from time to time (and maybe this will be your takeaway message from this blog post).

"I know what needs to be done.  I don't need people to tell me.  I need to hear people say, 'How can I help you get done what needs to be done?' "

I mean do you think if you're dealing with any other profession or business, they wouldn't want you to take the same approach?  How many teachers have had parents ask 'What can I help you with?'  I mean really, have you ever heard a teacher say I need LESS parental involvement.  I need FEWER people to listen to me when I ask for help!  Do you think your physician doesn't want to hear you ask what else you can do to help him or her take care of you?  I certainly don't mean from this post that people shouldn't be speaking up with their thoughts and suggestions, I'm just saying that maybe there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

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