Don’t be a glutton for guilt.
A business owner was telling me how badly she felt because one of her favorite employees, “Annie,” told her the job wasn’t working out and that she was looking for a new position. Annie was giving the business owner a ton of advance notice because the she felt badly too – she really loved the business owner. And now the business owner felt even worse. “I wish Annie were happier! I wish she would stay!”
And all of a sudden, I could hear screeching tires, cars colliding and the sound of an enormous crash – in my head. (That’s my visual image for “What?! Hold on, what did you say?”)
“Are you mad?” I asked her. “This is super easy. Here’s what you’re going to do, and then we’re going to stop talking about this topic, stop feeling badly, and move on to the next important thing we need to focus on for your business.”
The business owner was treading water. She felt stuck, because she needed to find a replacement for Annie. But she wasn’t because she was secretly hoping it would all work out. Even worse, she had also accepted that Annie’s unhappiness was her problem to fix.
Nope. Not your’s to fix. Her’s to fix.
I asked her to go back to Annie and tell her you understood that this wasn’t a great fit. Then she needed to ask Annie to write a job description and start interviewing for her own replacement (one less thing for the business owner to do). Finally, I asked her to send a clear message that it’s ok, you’re not upset, and better yet, Annie can help you fix this so she can go on her merry way to a happier job!
The next time you find yourself in a similar situation – trying to fix someone else’s problem – remember that it’s the equivalent of falling down a rabbit hole. It will wear you down and make you feel terrible. Instead chose the guilt-free path – such a happier place to be.
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