As you know I am a big fan of coaching I recently learned a very nice differentiation between the different roles you can find yourself in.
Rock: Sometimes you just need to be a rock. A rock reflects everything he hears back and acknowledges the problem exists.
Coach: As a coach you do everything the rock does but offer more than that. You offer different ways of interpretation. You help the other person to tap into her own knowledge to solve the situation at hand. But you don’t solve the problem for the other person or push for your own solution.
Fixer: You just take the problem at hand come up with a solution. You either then solve the problem yourself or tell the other person exactly what to do.
Often regarded as negative behavior as it doesn’t allow the other person to develop and own the solution there can be situation where this is actually helpful.
Friend: None of the above. No careful questions. No solutions. Just listening and agreeing no matter what. At first this doesn’t sound very helpful as well in terms of actually improving. But as human being that is what we sometimes need. Just bitching and being supported without anything actually changing.
I found that a fairly interesting differentiation. Along with it came the suggestion to use these different options very consciously and if you not sure what the other person needs at the moment to actually ask. Or the other way around if you approach someone just give him a hint what you need right now.