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Don't Try to Fix It

It’s Not About the Nail, Jason Headley

This has become one of my favorite videos to use as a conversation starter in a variety of training classes.  Whether the topic is communication skills, coaching skills, emotional intelligence, etc. we get a lot of mileage – and smiles – out of this video. 

Who has not experienced a moment like this? You are in a conversation and trying so hard to communicate in the right way, but just can’t figure out what to say. This man's facial expressions say it all.  His brain is screaming that the nail must come out...but she’s not looking to him to solve the problem for her. “Don’t try to fix it. I just need you to listen," she states as though she DOES NOT have a nail sticking out of her forehead.  As painfully obvious as it is, he makes the shift to meet HER needs in the conversation and her reaction is immediate.

Taking a step back and not trying to solve the problem is one of the hardest things to do as a leader, colleague, teammate, or friend.  Sometimes we just need to listen. Really listen. At the end of the day, people simply want to know they have been heard. It validates them and confirms you care. The goal of every conversation does not have to be "completion" -- sometimes it is simply about listening and meeting the needs of those around you.  Easier said than done, I know.  But the next time that nail is staring you in the face, remember you are not a hammer.


Put “The Platinum Rule” into practice and do a better job of seeing the real needs of those around you:

Think about it: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated. The alternative to the Golden Rule is the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated.’
— Dr. Tony Alessandra