Do You Have Problem Solving Skills That Make You the Team Member Every One Wants on Their Team?
Problem-solving skills are not just for math! Life presents challenges every day. If you know how to use your problem-solving skills to solve them, everyone and I mean everyone, will want you on their team!
Problems seem complex, troubling, and can be overwhelming at times. It’s not that we mind the problem so much, but we don’t like how they affect us.
When I am coaching, I will ask my clients to unravel the problem, and once done, to rate it on a scale of 1-10. Most often it’s under six. The challenge itself is not their most significant issue; what happens to them because of it, or in light of how they understand the situation, creates havoc in their lives.
The Effects of a Problem on our Physiology and Psychology
Dealing with problems, and certainly not dealing with them can create a lot of symptoms for us. Is it any wonder that we would do our best to avoid problems if they make us feel:
- Stressed out
The challenge itself is not your most significant issue; what happens to you because of it, or in light of how you understand the situation, creates the havoc in your lives.
The WOW of Solving a Problem
It starts with WOW. BAM. BOOM!
Let’s call it The liberation List.
Here are some words offered by clients and students for the Wow they feel when it works!
I’d love to see your list!
- In Charge
- Light – like I lost a lot of weight
Who wouldn’t want these feelings? The price of unsolved problems is too costly! The toll on those involved compounds the effects of the problem in the world.
Self – Test: What are the Characteristics of a Person Who Solves Problems?
So what kind of person is most prone to being an effective problem-solver? Do they have similar habits or traits that give them an edge? I have compiled a summary of characteristics popular with those who make it look easy to untangle the web and lead us forward.
How many of these behaviors or attitudes are familiar to you?
- Perseverance – I don’t quit.
- Start where you understand and go from there – Start where something makes sense and move into the confusion. Don’t start where you are confused.
- Create mental pictures (Einstein thought experiments) – Imagine different scenarios.
- Take time to define the problem accurately – Watch out! Rarely is the first definition you articulate the reality of the situation.
- Have a belief that problems can be solved – Are you the little train that could? 🙂
- Careful not to use conditional bias in identifying the problem – you don’t only look that which is familiar to you, but seek out what is in your blind spots.
- Use heuristics – mental shortcuts to save time and effort. But watch out, they can lead you right back to conditional bias.
- Connect with the right people – it takes a tribe. Problem-solving skills use multiple perspectives and resources to produce results.
- Communicate well with others.
- Work with facts – you can find a way to separate yourself from the emotional complexities of the situation.
- Use maps, words, pictures, equations, conversations – whatever works to get ideas into logic (taken from a host of useful problem-solvers characteristics by H Scott Fogler and Steven E LeBlanc in “Strategies for Creative Problem Solving.”
Problem Solving Skills Continued and Paradoxical
- Work with intuition– you are not afraid to use your abstract, emotional, and unconscious reasoning to assist with the facts.
- Have accountable benchmarks – your solutions can be substantiated with time and effort.
- Employ Critical thinking skills – Once you understand a problem, you apply critical-thinking skills to analyze the evidence and statements of those affected. (Neil Kokemuller)
- Avoiding the “experience trap,” as Shale Paul suggests, or the notion that what worked in the past is an easy solution to what will work now. Paul continues by stating an essential point in practical problem-solving, “They learn to expect the unexpected, illogical and non-linear.”
- Able to stay focused. Multitasking is not always the optimal strategy! Here is what Chinkee Tan had to say in his weekly advice column for www.GoodNewsPhilipinas.com
“We always want to hit two birds with just one stone and save us some time, but a great problem solver recognizes the importance of focus. When faced with multiple problems, he solves each one at a time. Also, this focus extends to addressing the problem at once. A good problem solver does not waste time; instead, he works on solving the problem immediately.”
Note that the links below link to my Affiliate Amazon Account and I would receive pennies if you purchased. 🙂
- Demonstrate a problem-friendly attitude. Rather than run from problems, or view them as a threat of conflict, Tom Hicks, suggests that we can choose to see challenges as information. (See Embodied Conflict; the neural basis of conflict and communication) We can use problems to provide information that helps us to “fix what needs fixing and do a better job.
- Use mindfulness in your approach to problem-solving. Dr. Laura K. Chang has a unique take on problem-solving through a self-awareness process that allows you to see where you stop looking at the truth, and when and why you do it. In her problem-solving article, she suggests that it is okay to attempt several solutions before you effectively solve the issue. Thank you, Dr. Chang! I would take time to read her article as it covers areas often neglected by business problem-solving methods.
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