Published 08.04.2020

Written by Darcy Luoma

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

Three Steps to Help You Overcome Any People Problem

Last week we discussed the Thoughtfully Fit core, which is the source of your power. It’s all about control and choice. Whatever obstacles come your way, engaging your core – focusing on what you control and what choices you have – can help you respond in an intentional and thoughtful way. 

This week we are going to explore the three steps necessary to engage your core: Pause. Think. Act. These steps are especially helpful when you are experiencing people problems. You know, when you are frustrated with a coworker, or maybe you’re not communicating well with your team and conflict is increasing. Those problems that get in the way of you doing your job and focusing on what you do best.  

Let’s take a look at each step.

PAUSE: Take a moment

The first step is to PAUSE. When you’re feeling frustrated, shutting down, or are annoyed with other people, you have to Pause. Take a moment when you’re noticing that things aren’t working! 

The Pause might be as quick as a breath or counting to three. The important thing about the Pause is it stops the momentum of what isn’t working. It gets you off autopilot and gives you the chance to think.

THINK: Ask Thoughtful Questions

The next step then is to THINK and ask yourself thoughtful questions. I’ll give you the first two: What do I control? and What are my choices? 

When you think about what you control, you consider what YOU – not anyone else – can do or say in the situation. Where should my focus be? When you think about your choices, you consider all the options and pick the most thoughtful option. What’s the best way forward?

It might feel like this step will take way too much time. Who has time to think this much? I get it. We live fast-paced lives. Just like an athlete, the more you practice though, the easier – and quicker – it gets. 

ACT: Choose Your Response

The final step is to ACT. Once you choose how you want to respond, you need to actually do it! 

My daughter Josie played basketball for the first time when she was about 9. She would get the ball and think. She would pivot and think. Then pivot again. The other girls would be yelling, “Shoot the ball!” or “Pass it to me, I’m open!” But she wouldn’t pass the ball or take the shot. Any time she got the ball, you could see the wheels turning. She was considering all the options, but she was hesitant to actually take the shot. 

Can you relate? 

After you decide what you need to do – whether it’s letting go of that mistake, taking a break, or choosing to have a difficult conversation – you need to actually do it! Sometimes the action you choose is difficult. But you don’t see the results unless you actually take the shot and act.


The key is to do all three, in order. You might notice that you do one of these really well. You might be excellent at pausing, but it only leads to a five hour Netflix binge. You might be excellent at thinking but get analysis paralysis. Maybe you act quickly but have regrets for being impulsive.

When you’re encountering hurdles and experiencing people’s problems, that’s when you Pause. Give yourself the time to Think. What’s in my control? What are my choices? Once you choose your response, take the shot, and Act

Pause. Think. Act.


This is a simple process, but it’s not easy. 

In the same way, you can’t do one sit up and have a strong physical core, you can’t Pause. Think. Act. once and expect everything to be perfect. If you’re really frustrated, you might have to pause and call that time out multiple times before you get the result you’re looking for. 

Engage your Thoughtfully Fit core and start seeing positive results with your people problems. That way you can get back to doing what you do best!

P.SWant help with your people problems? Registration is now open for our 100% virtual Thoughtfully Fit Leadership Series: Increase Your Impact. Join us from anywhere and connect with other leaders in this cohort style leadership training program! Sign up by August 7 to receive $200 off the registration price.