Professional People-Skills to Find Solutions, Not Fault
by Kate Nasser |
“Finding fault stops progress; finding solutions ignites success.” I recently wrote and posted that thought on Twitter. Many re-tweeted it and sent various replies. This particular reply caught my eye:
What do you do when those around you want to find fault instead of finding solutions?
A great question. Dealing with chronic naysayers can demoralize a team. Dan Rockwell, The LeadershipFreak, notes “Negative people always work to solidify the status quo.” He offers an except from Dr. Robert Sutton’s new book Good Boss, Bad Boss: “Teams with downers produce 40 to 60% less than teams without whiners and complainers.” That rang true to me. When I am around chronic naysayers, I feel like I am pushing a truck up a hill without a motor.
Conversely, when I am around people who focus on finding solutions, they ignite other innovative thoughts that can lead to success. When you watch teams of inventors, they actually highlight failures as steps toward success. They don’t wallow in finding fault with the ideas. They highlight the faulty ideas as a pathway for success!
So what professional people skills would you use with a peer who always finds fault and complains rather than offers solutions to problems?
Awareness, Attitude, & Personality Type
- Are they aware that they come across as negative vs. positive? You might think this is a ridiculous question yet many people never think about how they come across. One safe yet effective way of showing this to a peer is to ask them a “how to” question when they are simply complaining. If they reply “I don’t know how to fix it but this won’t work”, let them know that you would value their ideas and solutions. Continue on to say that you “respect their right to focus on what won’t work yet you find that it demoralizes you. Perhaps they could share those thoughts with someone else.” If someone is going to change their attitude, they must first be aware of how their attitude is impacting others and the bottom line.
- If the complaining continues, say “I may be wrong about this yet I perceive your remarks as an attempt to slow the change. Is that correct?” I did this one day and the complainer said “yes”! Once his attitude was out on the table, the leader addressed the change resistance with the complainer in private.
- What personality type are they? Driver types are so focused on the end result they assume that others are too. They often skip telling you the positive aspects of your idea and jump to the faults with the intention of reaching success more quickly. If you are not a driver personality type, you may likely see this as negativity or a personal slight to your value. Drivers are not the classic naysayer type. Nonetheless, their abrupt approach can demoralize and slow a team’s progress just like a chronic naysayer. Tell the driver type that you also are focusing on the end result. Yet you need to hear the positives as well as the faults to innovate and reach success.
Achieving success requires a great attitude, communication, awareness, and action.
Attitudes of fear and selfishness breed pure fault finding that can derail success. Awareness of those attitudes is the first step to return you all to the success track. Communicating only the negatives when you see the positives robs some teammates of the inspiration to continue innovating. If you are a driver type, don’t mistake the need to hear the positives as a lack of action. It spurs many non-drivers on to the finish line!
What else would you say or do with a peer who is always finding fault instead of solutions? I welcome your ideas in the comment section below.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, develops teamwork through workshops that bridge the gaps in communication. Participants in global corporations have remarked, “It was a revelation that transformed our results once we understood each other.” Tap Kate’s people-skills experience in webinars, workshops, blog posts. and DVDs.