My default response when an issue is brought to me is, “How can I make it right?” In tech support, this is perfect – someone is coming to you with an issue stopping them from doing what they need to, and you need to resolve it. In relationships, not so much.

When someone you are in a relationship with (romantic; familial; friendship) comes to you with an issue, defaulting to the “fix it right away” mindset can be destructive. It can give the illusion in the short-term that something has been done, when there might still be a larger cause underneath that needs addressing or awareness. “What can I do to make you feel better right now?” is what you are trying to do in the right-away-fix, and that can lead to forgetting to look deeper, or to work further. And make no mistake, looking deeper is often necessary – why did the issue come about in the first place? If you haven’t addressed that, and just put a band-aid on the wound, the injury will happen again. Not only that, but focusing on the immediate fix instead of the issue will lead to a false sense of resolution. If you are just motivated to make them feel better right now, you are not motivated to address the real problem.

I have found that often instead of wanting you to fix the issue right away or “appease” them to make them feel better, the other person wants you to listen to them, and validate their feelings. They want you to understand. If, through listening and understanding, you realize how you can work on the issue in the long term, great! The important thing though is the first step – listening, understanding, and validating their feelings. Sometimes this means that, yes, any pain resulting from the issue will persist while they work through and process their thoughts and feelings. 

As usual, I write these posts for myself. If you should benefit from anything I write, though, I will only be glad.