Key Life Skill: Effective Problem Solving

    Finding problems is easy but finding people who can solve them is a challenge. If you are someone who doesn’t just let things go, but pushes forward to find better solutions, you will enjoy a happier life and plenty of business options. But what are the best ways to solve problems?

    The following are four key pointers that professionals use to fix the unfixable.

    Identify the Problem

    You may think you know a problem that needs to be solved. Maybe you eat too many sweets and want to cut back. Maybe you don’t work well with a coworker and want to be moved to a new desk. It may be that simple, but… odds are it’s not.

    You may compulsively eat candy because you need something to do with your hands, not because it tastes so good. The real problem may be that you need a healthy way to manage your urge for stimulation.


    If you try to simply stop eating candy, you may pick up a new bad habit like compulsive phone breaks or jitters. Those jitters may make you cranky!

    Some coworkers are difficult. Others are just not our type of people. However, it is sometimes the case that we need to sit down and ask ourselves what the ideal collaboration might look like.


    It’s easy to get frustrated and you may think the solution is to find someone new, but a new person carries new issues that you may end up finding annoying as well! This is also true for those seeking romantic relationships.

    The real problem may be that you don’t know how to collaborate well with others. For help with this and compulsive habits, read on.

    Negotiate

    According to Forbes, problem solving requires transparent communication where everyone’s concerns and points of view are freely expressed.


    Communication is key, but sometimes we tell someone what we need, and they respond with “Too Bad.” Sometimes people don’t even know how to tell you what they need.

    Communication that enables effective problem solving involves negotiation. Find out what the other person wants, know what you want, and offer a reasonable compromise. This will work far better and save both of you the turmoil of arguments and frustration with each other.

    Make a List

    Sitting down to brainstorm possible solutions to a problem is an important step. You must first, of course, identify what the problem really is. If none of your solutions work, you may need to consider if you’ve properly identified what’s really wrong.

    Problems can get under our skin and make us focus on their hopelessness, but instead we need to focus on what might solve them.


    Possible solutions to the snacking habit might be:

    • Healthier snacks like carrots or celery in peanut butter or hummus. Whatever dip you like best!
    • Restricting your access to candy. Don’t buy it, don’t go near it. Eventually you may lose the habit
    • Find an accountability partner. Maybe a friend is also eating candy or chips too much. Make a pact to hold each other accountable in your endeavor to stop.

    Possible solutions to the collaboration problem could be:

    • List the traits of someone you would work well with.
    • Think of examples of people you’ve worked well within the past. Think about what made those relationships work.
    • Work on communication skills. Listen more, forgive, and negotiate with coworkers.

    Test and Evaluate

    Now that you have a list of ideas, test them out! Become a scientist and record your results. You may find that some solutions don’t work at all while others give you new ideas. This is the ongoing quest of problem solving. If nothing works, go back and make another list!

    Don’t give up. You deserve to have your problem resolved.

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