Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?

Hey Color Thinking Leaders!

Have you done this? I know I have.

Someone on your team brings you a problem, and they might even bring you a solution. The first thing out of your mouth is “why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?”

I get it because I’ve done it. You’re worried that this is bigger than just this one incident. You’re imagining all the things you don’t know about. Maybe they’re hiding things from you. You’re afraid it’s going to blow back on you. Whatever other words your brain is serving up, you’re afraid, plain and simple.

So you say something that you think is reasonable. But is it? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

You’ve just shifted the focus, for one thing. They brought you one problem, you’re focusing on a different problem – why you were out of the loop on this thing.

You’ve just made YOUR problem THEIR problem. They already had a problem, and they brought it to you for help. Why you were out of the loop is your problem, the thing you want to solve. How and when you asked, you just shifted responsibility for the problem right into their lap. It’s actually your job to find that out and fix it, and now is probably not the right time because…

You’ve just put them on the defensive. I know, I know, it wasn’t your intention. But you did use language that implies blame. Sorry, you did. Think about how you respond when someone says it to you. Defensive, right? And you’ve just made it less likely that they’ll bring things to you, not more likely.

So what can you do?

Thank them for bringing the problem to your attention and asking for help. Deal with their problem and solution first. Later, you can return to your problem. Do it together. Use more collaborative language. How can we make communication flow more smoothly? Is there a timing issue? Can I be more approachable? What can we do to make this easier?

I know this was a very specific blog. But I have heard this phrase bandied about so much lately that I figured it needed to be addressed.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love, and light in the pages,

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