Having spent years working with troubled youth, I have learned one tool that is both the most useful and the most difficult thing to learn when helping kids: “Shut up and Listen”. Bill Engvall has a stand-up comedy act where his catch phase is “I should have just shut up”.
There is something to take from this in our work and personal lives. Instead of expressing our opinion, we should simply listen to others. Focus on what is being said instead of trying to prove your point. Listen to the other solutions around the room instead of trying to prove yours.
When you ask a question, listen to the answer and accept it. Then, SHUT UP.
It is amazing how the two completely different jobs I have had are identical in some ways. I was a director of a residential facilities for 7 years. I would not trade those years for anything because they made me the person I am today. I worked for a wonderful women and had two co-workers that were always there to help and give advice.
Now, I work on a computer all day long, I do not deal with any youth, and my day is full of SQL, Java and being a SME (Subject Matter Expert) providing advice to professionals on how to track data. And guess what, I work for a wonderful women and team and enjoy going to work every day of the week.
The one thing they have in common: People come to people in my position when they have a problem. Bottom line, you hear problems all day long and you get in the habit of trying to fix them. Bad Idea. Sometimes I just need to shut up and listen. In most cases, the best therapists I know, say very little. The best Project Managers (PM) I work with do not solve problems, they shut up and listen. They hear a problem and they seek advice and listen to the response. Instead of formulating an immediate response, they process.
It is a great feeling to help someone with a problem and offer solutions but in most cases it takes more than one individual to come up with a proper solution. One person can absolutely come up with their own solution if they take the time to do so but in many cases if that one person would "Just Shut Up" and listen to others, a better solution can be offered from someone else who "Just Shut Up" and listened.