Too Close to see problem



Too close to problem to see solution

Apiwut Pimolsaengsuriya

Khun Kai is an Executive Vice President in marketing and communication of a large Thai financial institute. She had been very successful in a foreign bank for a number of years prior to moving to this organization since early last year. Here, in new working environment, she has not been yet as successful. That’s might be why her boss offerred her this coaching assistance.

We already had a few coaching sessions together. Today she came to the meeting place with a little dulled-looking appearance.  “   Good morning Khun Kai, how are you today ?” I started the conversation “I’m fine, thank you” She replied“Are you sure ? You didn’t look fine to me, anything went wrong ?” I insisted

She was quiet for a while, I started seeing tear in her eyes not long before she broke down complaining about her boss, she thought her boss did not pay enough attention to her. Some evidences were situations when her boss did not return her calls, did not give her enough time to meet and update the progress of key projects, was rushing during meetings and kept moving her appointments. 

Additionally, she confirmed that her boss had just changed his behavior recently before that she still had good time working with him.

“Was this just happening to you only or other people too?” I probed for more understanding of the situation

“Depended, with his people, he talked well. With me and a couple of others, he had changed”

“Why was getting attention from boss so important to you?” I asked

“It impacted my performance!”

“But you still could succeed without changing your boss’s behavior, didn’t you?”

“Well, apart from that, I did not feel being valued. When I was working in my previous organization, I had much better support. My thought was heard.” she shared her frustration

“Why being valued was important?” I challenged her to come out with her real concern

“It made me happy and fulfilled, I have to know I am significant” she firmly replied

“Oh, okay. Then, what would you do with this challenge?”

“I wouldn’t do anything anymore, just ignored him. I wanted to make myself happy”

“Were you happy at all?” I challenged and she was in silence.

“What were you using – reason or emotion – in dealing with this issue?” I moved on and she was still silent.

Then I asked her to be a little more relaxing, took deep breaths, sat quietly for a few moments and let go the feeling about him. Once she was emotionally ready, I discussed with her my experience about people behavior by asking if she agreed that every behavior people acted, even a bad one, had good intention – for example if someone yelled at you, the good intention might be that s/he would like to see you getting better next time. She agreed.

I therefore asked her to imagine moving her mind out of her body, going back to a situation when her and her boss had unimpressive discussion. In the imagined situation, she did not have to do anything but observing the conversation and behaviors of both herself and her boss – like watching a movie.

“Now, Khun Kai, tell me if you put yourself in your boss’s shoe. Why did your boss act so?”

“Well, a few things I thought of. First, he might be busy with other more urgent stuffs, second, I might speak too long trying to explain too much details and third, the benefit of why he should give me his time might not be clear enough” she explained

“Excellent Khun Kai, you were right on the spot !, now what would you plan to do ?”

“I have to prepare myself before meeting him. Make my presentation shorter, actually I knew he was only interested in result, not how I got it done, but it was me who wanted to tell him all details”

“Great! but this would only be happening if he gave you his time, the problem was how you would get his attention?” I challenged her a litter further

“That’s easy, I would show him the benefits of my issue. Tell him what he would get from listening to me rather than what I would get from him. Actually, I used to learn FABE technique which was about how to convince people … but I did not use it!”

“Really, interesting. Please tell me more about it, Khun Kai. I would love to learn from you too” I enthusiastically encouraged her to share it

“Sure, why not! FABE is an acronym standing for…

F-Facts, Figures and Features .. explaining what you are talking about, 

A-Advantages .. explaining why these facts, figures and features are better than those of other options,

B-Benefits .. explaining what’s in it for the listeners

and E-Evidence .. giving some specific examples to strengthen the advantages and benefits of the case.

FABE is a technique to form a convincing statement. In order to be successful, we need to focus more on Advantages and Benefits rather than Facts, Figures and Features” she proudly presented the concept

“That’s fabulous. Now do you think these strategies would help you deal with your current problem effectively”

“Yes, I believe so. I just realized that when I talked to my boss, I spent much time talking about facts, figures and background of the issue rather than mentioned about advantages and benefits. I am sure that if I present more of the benefits, he will love to hear what I have to say. This actually made me successful when I was working in my former job, I shouldn’t have forgot it!” she firmly believed

“Very good, I would be more than happy to provide any support should you need it. By the way, what was a key takeaway from our coaching session today, Khun Kai?”

“For me, what I learned today was that sometimes when we were too close to problem, we couldn’t see solution. Only if we take a few steps back from the problem and neutrally look at it, we will figure out how to deal with it. Like the old saying says you can’t see the forest for the trees. Thank you for the great coaching moment” she enthusiastically summarized her thought and was totally different from how she looked about an hour ago

“My pleasure, thank you for sharing the convincing technique with me too” I concluded that coaching session.


Apiwut Pimolsaengsuriya is Executive Director of Orchid Slingshot and a certified executive coach from International Coach Federation (ICF). Write to him at