First scenario: The child comes back home from school and says, “You know what happened today? My friend Rahul stopped talking to me.” The Parent instantly responds, “Good for you. He is not the only friend in school, right? Tomorrow even if comes talking, you ignore him”
Second scenario: The wife comes back home from school and tells her husband, “Today was really a tiring day. So many papers to correct and then one child caused so much ruckus in the class and on top of that the Principal wanted a report on the last meeting” The husband responds, “It is time you gave up that job.”
What happens to the person who opened the conversation? Does he or she feel good at opening their mouth and expressing themselves? Were they looking for solutions? Or were they looking to be comforted?
Verbal expression of issues needs comforting first
The moment a family member or a friend states a problem, we assume that they are looking for solutions from us. The logic is if they were not looking for solutions why would they state the problem in the first place? We don’t realize that every time we provide instant solutions to the person just venting, we convey the message that the person is incompetent in handling the issue and we know better. This only increases the resentment in the relationship.
All human communication is not about problem-solving. It is important to understand this to enhance harmony in relationships. The child and the wife in the above two scenarios were not looking for solutions. Perhaps it was not even a ‘problem’ to be solved. They were just relating what happened during their day. It is a part of a normal conversation to lay out the issues that the person faced during the day. They are just letting it out. It does not mean that it is the responsibility of the person listening to offer solutions and fix the problem. There is nothing to be fixed in these situations.
Every problem expressed does not need fixing
Many relationships get spoilt because one member of the family takes the onus of ‘fixing’ all problems of all family members. They feel they are wiser, more knowledgeable and know the future hence they can offer ‘solutions’ to all problems. But no one really asked them for solutions. Can one vent about the situations and people one faced in the day without being ‘helped’ to solve all the issues that came up during the day?
Can we just listen and ask the person to elaborate on what happened? Can we allow people around us to complain about life situations without offering an instant fix? Can we stop being the solutions provider to everyone around us?
We can don the role of problem fixer only if the problem persists or is becoming a deeper issue. Even then it would be good to make the person come out with solutions to their issues instead of offering solutions. Doesn’t putting our ‘wisdom’ on hold go a long way in bringing greater harmony in relationships?