Think About it: Is That Really Your Problem?

When I help professionals grow in their careers a common question that comes up is “what type of training would you recommend?”. Too often when a problem arises, professionals and leaders often use training to fix the issue. ‘Problems’ especially involving skills or behaviour change can rarely be fixed without knowing the root cause. If you don’t understand the problem you’re trying to solve it may hinder your development.

Misconception: Problem + Training = Solution! 

Reality: Problem + Training = Quick Fix (but not sustainable)

Need: Understand Root Cause + Explore Options + Strategize = Optimal Results

Many people say they want to improve their presentation skills. However, in my experience, this statement is usually a mask for something else. When you peel back the layers, “presentation skills” is a common code for some sort of communication skills, negotiation skills, building confidence, or your ability to think on your feet.

The first step is to get clarity on what you need or what skill you are seeking to develop. Here are some questions to help you gain clarity:

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?

  • What makes the problem so important to you?

  • What do you actually need?

  • What is truly the problem?

A recent chat with my client clarified her true need as we started to dive below the surface:

Client: “I need better presentation skills”

Me: “What do you mean by better presentation skills?”

Client: “I think I want to communicate better”

Me: “Describe the importance of communication to you”

Client: “I get anxious at meetings and presentations and want to be able to think on my feet faster and respond to questions at meetings”

Ah-ha! Now we’re getting somewhere.

After having a more in-depth discussion, we were able to realize that she really wanted to find ways to decrease the pressure she felt at meetings. My client further explained that she wanted to improve her ability to respond to unexpected questions.

By digging deeper, we were able to realize that her main problem wasn’t about her communication or presentation skills but the issue that she wanted to deal with, was something else. Through our work together, we were able to help her name the specific problem and generate options tailored to support her to do what feels natural for her.

ACTION: Step back and let your thoughts guide you rather than your impulse. Get clear on your problem first. To properly strategize and attain optimal results, you need to first clarify your true needs.

Originally Published at ExcelsiorToday.