5 Ways to be a Better Problem Solver
When you are faced with a challenge, what do you do? Some shy away or ignore difficulties. But, learning how to be a problem solver is absolutely essential for any line of work, and in all areas of your life. Whether you are facing challenges in your relationships, at work, at home, or individually, problem solving techniques can help you to overcome hardships and come out on the other side a better you.
Why is problem solving important?
Problem solving is the ability to identify a problem, explore potential solutions, and then act in accordance with a solution. Everyone is faced with challenges. In life, how you approach a problem is most often more important than what the problem actually is. Being able to problem solve expands your horizons at work, at school, in relationships, and in your own personal goals. Continue reading to learn five steps that will help you to become a more successful problem solver.
5 Steps to help you be a better problem solver:
1. Identify the root of the problem
The first step to problem solving is, of course, identifying what the problem is. You might be thinking, “duh!” Often we identify problems without even thinking because the problem is so obvious to us that it requires little thought. But, sometimes the problem that you are facing is a result of an underlying issue. This is frequently true for recurring issues. In either case, it is necessary to consciously identify the root of the problem so that you are able to deliberately explore solutions.
2. Eliminate Pride
Before you start pondering potential solutions to your problem, make sure that you set your own, personal agenda to the side. When approached with a problem, many people have personal biases that sway their opinion of how to solve the issue before brainstorming all possible solutions. Intentionally realize that the purpose of problem solving is not to be right, rather it is to find the best possible solution. No one is ever right 100% of the time. Lay your pride aside and commit to finding a solution, whether or not that solution aligns with your previous bias or not.
3. Brainstorm solutions from different perspectives
Now that you have cast your own biases to the side, it is time to brainstorm all possible solutions. Of course, this can be done individually. But, with the help of others you can explore more options which you never thought of before. This is an important time to be creative. Don’t be scared to think outside of the box. Not every potential solution is going to be the solution to your problem. But, allowing yourself to create a laundry list of ideas will help you end up with the best possible solution. Remember, don’t weigh the pros and cons of the solutions yet (that comes in the next step). Rather, just think about the different conclusions you can come to so you can see all your options before deciding which one is best.
4. Now, evaluate.
The step you have been waiting for! Finally, start weighing the advantages and disadvantages of your possible solutions. Consider making pro and con lists for each solution. What short term and long term effects will your final solution have? Most likely, there won’t be a perfect solution, and that is okay. But, at the end of this step, you should come to a realization of what will be the best course of action.
5. Commit to your conclusion (and reevaluate if need be)
Commit yourself! Trust that your process of problem solving has been successful. Be deliberate and thoughtful about applying your solution. Sometimes, what you write on paper isn’t as successful in application. If you find that a different solution would have been more successful, then reevaluate your efforts and try again.
Authored by Lauren Woodbury