Giving Advice through Option Solving

We’re all asked for advice from time to time and the question is, “Will the other party listen and take our advice on board?” This is where option solving can come in very handy.

Instead of providing advice, ask the advice seeker, “What do you see are your options in this instance?” By asking them a question in reply, you’ve automatically got them into a listening mode. More often than not, the person will start sharing one or two of their immediate options but you will quickly notice he/she is frustrated with those answers, which is why he/she has come to you.

Your challenge, other than in an emergency, is not to give advice seekers advice off the bat. There is a big chance your offering will not gel with them anyway, even if it’s very sound, because deep down people prefer to act on their own advice not upon the advice of others. They have to experience an emotional buy-in to any advice and they are more likely to do that when they have discovered it for themselves.

So, once you have them sharing their initial options with you, then ask the question, “What is it you are trying to accomplish with this issue?” This is going to encourage them to reach into their intuitive intelligence and imagine what they are really looking to resolve. Help them formulate an appropriate question (learn about this in the book).

Then get them to spell out their least likely options (what the book calls “bookends”). Once these are in place, which will move their intuitive mind into high gear, then ask them, “What are your most likely options?” Now they will start looking at wider possibilities, including the one or two that they offered at the outset.

When they have exhausted their ideas, this is when you can insert the idea/piece of advice that you would have liked to have given them in the first place. Now they will really listen and most likely buy into your suggestion. And now they are ready to choose their best option, especially when you ask them, “Now intuitively pick the best option for you?” No analysis. No agonizing. Just choose the one that makes the most intuitive sense.

Hey presto! They suddenly find they’ve arrived at their best possible choice. They have also emotionally bought into it. They will be so grateful to you for listening and helping them along the right track. (NOTE: There will be another posting within a week.)

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You’re Downsized: the Option Solving Solution

Being downsized through no fault of your own is pretty common these days. After dealing with the shock, the reflections “Why me?” and potential embarrassment, you then have to deal with, “What am I going to do now?”

Fortunately you have one great resource you can draw upon – your intuitive intelligence. Somewhere within its enormous capability and experience, it knows just what you should be doing next. It just needs to be approached in the right way: then it will guide you in the right direction.

Your starting point is to utilize your rational mind to ask your intuitive mind the right question. (Note: The rational mind asks the right questions and the intuitive mind makes the best judgments.) So the rational mind could ask a simple question like, “What’s the right career step for me to pursue at this moment in time?” (Note: By reading the book you can insert other qualifiers which will make the question even more incisive.)

Your next step will be to find the two bookends that will really encourage your intuitive mind to become as creative as possible. You need to find options that your intuitive mind wants to reject: like 1) Sit around and wait for the right job to come along; or 2) Go and knock on every likely company door asking for an opportunity” …more about bookends in the book.

Once your question and bookends are in place, they form the framework for all the viable options that may emerge. It could be helpful for a friend or confidante to be around at this point, to help you be objective and creative about your talents and capabilities. In this scenario, set out in diagrammatic form (see attached latest example) the career options which are the most appealing to you. We won’t define those at this stage because they really are a personal thing and examples will only obfuscate what’s right for you (again the book will outline these principles).

At the moment these are laid out – there should be at least 5-6 – then you need some “emotional distancing” to make the right choice – again refer to the book. The key thing is to sleep on your choices, asking the earlier formed question immediately before closing your eyes, and then respond to the first most apparent choice once you wake.

What ever it is, that’s what you should be doing. Your intuitive intelligence will have sorted through all the ifs, buts and trade-offs, as well as keyed in to your real passion.  You should now pursue this choice/option with all your might! Issue solved. (Next blog posting within the week.)

My Latest Experience with Option Solving

A colleague called the other day to discuss his challenges with a strong willed client. Despite work with her board 5 – 6 weeks ago to take more of a macro view, practical circumstances were causing her to focus on highly tactical issues.

My colleague was looking for my opinion but instead we chose to focus our discussion on his options. We quickly established the question, “What is his best option in light of his client’s dramatic shift toward tactical issues, even though fundraising is a key near term factor?”

Almost as quickly we staked out the most unlikely options as bookends: at one end – Let things take their own course; or at the other end – Really take the bull by the horns (see how this is done in the book).

Then we started to consider more viable options. These included, A) direct approach to team leaders for steering the organization forward, B) a joint meeting with the client to encourage her to see the pitfalls of her approach, C) meet with one of her close confidantes to encourage a different approach, D) attend a board meeting and encourage members to consider both short-term and longer-term needs, E) attend the upcoming golf fundraiser to build relationships with key Board Members to help them forward.

Once we clarified these options, my colleague had the opportunity to decide for himself which way to go. We won’t bother with his choice at this time. But the key outcome was the possibility for him to arrive at the best conclusion himself, rather than draw upon someone else’s opinion – as could have happened at the outset.

Turning an Unclear Issue into Clear Focus through Option Solving

At a recent client senior team retreat, participants considered a number of key issues challenging their company but then settled on the most important one: management retention.

Through professional facilitation, which is recommended for a group greater than 10, the 17 participants chose the question to lead them in the right direction: “What is our best option for creating a culture of management retention?”

By sub-groups they settled on the two most unlikely “bookends”: 1) Stay with our current model and continue with our current practices; 2) Give everyone everything they desire. Participants didn’t want to entertain either of these options but they created a useful framework for starters. (Find out more about bookends from the book.)

Shortly after, these same sub-groups determined six viable options, three of which were A) Explore best practices outside of our industry, B) Career pathing, C) Find out what is important to managers. None of these included the one they ultimately chose.

The ultimate choice is not important, especially as readers shouldn’t aim to use examples like these as a blueprint for their own issues. Once you read the book about Smart Decisions, you will notice how such options can only match up to a company or individual’s own unique circumstances: and should not be based upon someone else’s intuitive brainwork. However, you can rest assured that this group’s final choice not only put participants’ minds at rest but it also provided them a clear focus going forward.

It will not be a surprise for readers to sense that this company’s management retention will improve dramatically over the next 12 months.