How to Understand What They Mean?- PPME part 2 of 6

 People Problems Made Easy Series Part 2 or 6

How to Solve Problems at Work

How to Understand What They Mean?

One of the most challenging things to manage or problem solve in work are those generated based on how you interpret the information shared. This is a series of articles and Part 1 talks about The Problem No One Will Talk About.

Today we are talking about How to understand what they mean.

Let’s take the statement “People Problems Made Easy,” I suspect you have some kind of people problem, otherwise in your busy life why would you stop to read this article. So the words have caught your attention.

Now one of the biggest problems we all face in life today, when managing ourselves and others, is that the meaning of words can vary from person to person.

How we solve this problem at Step by Step Listening is we ask questions to clarify and we share with you those questions so that you can understand complex matters easily.

You will be surprised when I ask someone what kind of ….is that …..?,  how often they change the word and say well actually it isn’t that it is ………

Let me give you an example, I was working with a client and she said, “It is probably a case of doing …..”

When asked what kind of ‘probably’ is that?

The client replied, “That is a definite I know.”

How many of us would have thought that probably meant, they were not sure or not committed to the task in question.  One question enabled the individual to understand fully what they meant and allowed them to change their vocabulary plus it prevented me making assumptions.

As, I also work with this person, I can confirm that without this insight I could quite easily have felt frustrated that they were not committed when in fact they were.

It turns out for this person, probably in this context means a definite yes and takes the pressure off them if they say probably to others. This is not unusual that different words have different meanings to different people and the meaning can even change for the individual depending on the context.

This is why understanding what they mean requires effective non-judgemental and curious questions to get results.

Imagine what happens when you don’t have that clarification.

Quite often the rest of the conversation is at cross purposes and it is like you are both speaking a foreign language.

So let’s check in when you are attracted to finding out about ‘People Problems Made Easy,’ please leave an example below of the kind of people problems you face right now, what is happening for you right now.

Here are some we dealt with this week at Step by Step Listening:


  • My team don’t do as I say
  • There is an atmosphere in the office
  • I can’t get my own head straight
  • I can’t let go and delegate even though I know I should
  • They wind me up
  • I want to earn more money but I don’t have any more hours
  • I want to get more out of my team but I don’t have time to train them
  • Our company lacks a leadership training programme
  • I want to please everyone, I want all parties to be happy
  • I feel bad because I work slower than others
  • I am frustrated because they are so slow
  • My teenager hates me
  • I am struggling to accept a recent break up
  • I know people are different but I just can’t stop myself being frustrated
  • I know I need to listen but it is hard when I am not interested
  • Why do I let some clients get away with not paying.


Can you add anymore below?

We love to listen.

At Step by Step Listening we pride ourselves in being able to ask powerful questions that change your focus and therefore change the results.

If you want to spend more time exploring solutions rather than talking over and over and over again to anyone that will listen about the problem, call us now.

We are confident that your problem will feel lighter, smaller and less of a burden in just 30 mins we offer a free call where we guarantee, no matter how big your problem is, by the end of 30 minutes you will know your next best step.

Our Guarantee

After our free 30 minute session you will leave with either:

  1. Your problem solved
  2. Your next best step planned
  3. Knowledge whether Step by Step Listening is part of the solution or not

You could of course leave with all three.

Call us now +44 329 286648 to book your 30 minute now or for those not local email and let’s arrange a free skype call.

Thank you for listening, I am waiting to hear from you.

How to solve problems at work





Sheryl Andrews Founder and Power Group Facilitator and Trainer


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