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Problem Talk is Quicksand

I am drawn to stories of survival; and the other day when I saw a video of how to survive falling through ice, it intrigued me to keep learning. It reminded me of another video of Bear Grylls getting out of quicksand. Both mentioned letting your legs float up behind you and becoming horizontal to spread out your weight. Shuddering at the thought of freezing water or quicksand, I bring you today’s message about mental quicksand.

Do you ever feel like you are not getting anywhere in the conversation? Do you know someone who talks in circles with no apparent destination? It can also sound like problem talk. Problem talk adds lots of detail to the conversation and it feels like you and the other person are studying it to the ninth degree. The conversation spirals downward, fast.  If that person reaches out and pulls in others to the problem talk, they both fall in and are in trouble, just like being stuck in quicksand.

Or, are your conversations with others resulting in action, clarity and a way forward? Have you decided on who will do what at the end? Have the next steps been defined?

If moving ahead in the conversation is what you want, solution talk will get you there. Solution talk as defined by Dr. Robert Hicks is “the product of taking  beginning and intermediate steps to do something different that will move them toward where they want to be.” Just a little change in the right direction is better than too large a step, so as to avoid overwhelm.  Overwhelm happens sometimes in meetings when the problem is so big and the group gives up in exasperation and starts to feel their situation is hopeless. Instead, small experimental steps towards solution can work, according to Hicks “if you assess their effectiveness and adjust the next steps accordingly.” In the meeting example, it’s a check- in or a milestone meeting to assess how much progress has occurred. Solutions will emerge from this process because each piece or step of a solution must survive the test of effectiveness before it is combined with other progress steps.

Introduce solution talk next time and assist others in focusing on the solution, not the problem. Break the solution into small parts. If you are wondering about the solution to getting out of quicksand, according to Bear Grylls, get horizontal and monkey crawl your way forward. Listen to Bear Grylls Quicksand Video


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