In a recent conversation with a colleague, I was reminded of a toothpaste discussion from many years ago. It went something like this…
A friend was expressing there frustration about their partner’s inability to squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube. They hadn’t got very far into their lament before another friend said,
Get the pump.
This response wasn’t given much attention, as the friend began protesting that the partner should be able to squeeze the tube of paste from the bottom. It made sense… Can’t understand why they…
Get the pump.
Uttered the other friend again. Nothing more, nothing less, just those three words.
The frustrated friend still continued their lament, asserting why squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom was the right way to do it, and their wanting the partner to understand and do it.
Get the pump. It eliminates the problem.
The aggrieved friend started a “but no,” response, fully prepared to continue making their case, but eventually relented.
If the issue was the toothpaste being squeezed in the middle, at the top, or wherever their partner’s fingers landed, a pump couldn’t be squeezed.
If it was the risk of a toothpaste splat, as they frustratedly flattened the tube into the right shape, a light push at the top of the pump would deposit an appropriate amount of toothpaste onto the brush.
If the issue wasn’t them being right, and their partner being wrong, they’d get the pump.
Being solution-focussed, can sometimes be the most appropriate and effective response. There are definitely times when it is necessary to argue one’s case, to look back at how things started, see the issue from every angle and so on, but at other times, we just need to get the pump.