By Amanda Zinke, PCC.  One of the biggest leaps I’ve seen clients choose to make is to embrace “AND” thinking.  So many of us think in terms of binary answers.  Yes or no, this or that.  These options can be useful in making quick decisions and sometimes it really is a choice.  AND there could be additional options.  This one small word can open up so many other possibilities.

A Third Option

During a coaching session, a client kept circling and circling on a decision.  Apparently, he’d been considering the issue he was facing for a few weeks.  Neither option seemed to sound good to him.  In fact, when asked, the client agreed he would characterized the situation as a lose/lose proposition.  Because of this, he had delayed making a decision. The client believed that either of his options could negatively affect his reputation and his legacy.  In addition, he might also lose a member of his team through attrition.

It seemed the client might be limited by either/or thinking.  When asked if there was a third option, he was silent.  Eventually the client answered yes, there might be, and he began to consider various parameters.  AND allowed the client to consider new options.  By the end of the session he had arrived at a third solution, which he felt great about.  I could hear the conviction in the client’s voice and the excitement of a WIN/WIN decision.  He couldn’t wait to set the wheels in motion.   

Are there issues where you only see two paths?  Could you consider a new solution?  Could there be a way to combine the two options or to find a position somewhere in between? 

Seeing the Shades of Grey

It had been a month since I’d last talked to one of my clients.  When we began the session, I could hear a difference in her tone and cadence.  It struck me that the client sounded more grounded and calmer.  Yes, the client reflected, she felt different.  She explained that in the past few weeks she was not making assumptions about interactions with other groups.  She wasn’t assuming there was only one “right” answer.  And the client was giving people the benefit of the doubt, acknowledging there might be some aspect of the situation she just didn’t know.  

This ability to consider the grey, rather than black and white, enabled the client to be more welcoming and collaborative with her peers and reduced her stress levels when her idea of “right” was challenged.  The client credited moving away from either/or thinking and embracing the “and” for these positive changes.

Are you engaged in either/or thinking in certain areas of your life?  In discussion with others, could you reflect on how you could both have valid perspectives?   Could thinking this way improve one or more of your relationships?

While thinking, relating and communicating this way can take some practice, it can be well worth it.  And once this becomes second nature, you could be amazed at the possibilities that may open up.    

You may be great at this already, AND maybe there are areas you don’t even realize you’re limiting your own options.  Consult with Amanda to open up your options!