Almost every school lunchtime as a kid I would play a game called Stuck in the Mud. It’s also known as, “tag”, “tig”, and “freeze tag”, but the concept is the same. One person chases the others, and if they catch them that person becomes stuck in the mud. You cannot free yourself from the mud; you have to wait for someone else on your team to free you and then off you go again.
If your team was unlucky, everyone would be stuck, there was no longer any way to become unstuck and your team lost.
In some ways stuck in the mud is similar to an organisational crisis. Relationship breakdown, governance problems, or external pressures can lead to businesses becoming stuck. In those moments, you need someone external to your organisation to help you become unstuck.
Last week I completed mediation training with the Society of Mediators, and while it was fascinating and intense, I cannot recommend the course highly enough.
Something that took me by surprise, were the two golden rules of mediation that were repeated throughout the training.
Firstly, listen, listen, listen.
How many of us listen to respond rather than listen to understand? Usually, I pride myself on being a good listener. For my friends, I’m always available as a shoulder to cry on or a person to vent to. However, I can certainly be guilty of listening to reply, believing that I have the right answer that will fix that person’s problems. It is arrogance that underpins that sentiment, believing that we know better than the person in the situation.
There is no substitute for engaged and interested listening. If you want to understand the heart of a problem, the best thing you can do is listen.
Secondly, don’t make matters worse.
This one seems simple enough, right? Don’t make things worse. Sadly, too often our egos and desire to be right lead us to dive right into a situation that we don’t belong in. By not listening and assuming we know best, we can stampede into people’s lives and make things worse.
By taking time to listen, and not jumping in straight away, a good facilitator can help organisations become unstuck.
At Broadstairs Consulting Ltd we love to solve problems, but we also know how to listen. We know the best person to solve your problem is you, and our job as facilitators is to help you and your team have a conversation that will facilitate progress.
Need some help to become unstuck? We would love to hear from you, so let’s start a conversation today.