Do you see challenges with others as problems … or concerns? In Diamond Goldfish, co-authors Travis Carson, Tony Cooper and I explore the difference. Let’s start with the dictionary definition of each:

Problem – a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

Concern – a matter of interest or importance to someone.

When we think of people as problems, we begin to see everything through the lens of being “unwelcome or harmful” to us. This leads each of us to take things personally. Furthermore, we may begin to inject the actions of others with negative intent—“this person is doing this to me because they are a problem.” There is almost zero chance of working together in a constructive way when people are viewed as problems.

The alternative then is viewing others as a set of concerns. What is “of interest” to them? What is “important” to them? When we come from this set of questions in our relationships with others, we automatically reduce pressure in the environment by removing the background of negativity. We begin to look at the world from different perspectives, not our own, and we are able to avoid any connection to infusing the action of others with negative intent.

Concerns are easily addressable.