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Improving Your Problem Solving Skills

Unfortunately, facing and overcoming problems is part and parcel of life. Whenever we are faced with problems, we can opt to do one of two things – go on ignoring the problem with the hope that the issue will take care of itself or we can treat it as a challenge that must be solved. A challenge from which we can learn and grow. You can use problem solving skills for any number of tasks, whether in your job, or to deal with your partner and children.

Why don’t I Possess Problem Solving Skills?

Most people have a negative “What if” attitude that does not help enhance their problem solving skills. In many cases, a person is too hesitant to attempt problem solving due to feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. Negative self image also causes a person to think his techniques will surely fail or not be accepted by others. Someone that lacks creativity, ingenuity, and an inability to think out of the box will also have difficulty in problem solving. Many times we take ourselves too seriously and forget the child within us all that can devise ingenious ways out of a particularly difficult issue. Stress, performance pressure, and fatigue are also contributors to a person’s inability to get past problems successfully. Emotions like anger, bitterness, depression, guilt, anxiety, and self pity hinder effective problem solving. A person attempting any type of problem solving should be flexible, have his mind open to possibilities and a positive mindset about his ability to solve the problem.

Basic Steps in Problem Solving

First, define the problem clearly and concisely. Every problem has positive and negative factors. Describe these enabling or disabling factors. Define the extent and nature of the problem and the impact it will have on your career, relationships or whatever the case may be. Make a list of possible solutions and rank them according to their efficacy and chances of success. Brainstorm and encourage all ideas and options, no matter how wild they seem. If possible, gather help from others to assist in problem solving – two heads are still better than one! Remove any doubts, feelings of denial or anxiety that you might have – this is very important to the problem solving process. When you have decided on a course of action, pursue it single mindedly until you succeed.

How can I Better My Problem Solving Skills

If the problem posed is huge, attempt to solve it in pieces. Smaller steps are not so intimidating and when you have successfully solved one step, it can be a huge motivator to solve the next step. For example, starting up a business from scratch is a huge challenge that is best attempted in parts. Another terrific idea is to write down all of the problems and any of the solutions that come to your mind. Do not discount any idea as being too far-fetched. Once you have a bunch of solutions down in black and white, it becomes easier to shortlist the best options from that list. Try looking at the problem from a different perspective and you will be able to come up with more creative solutions.

There are multiple problem solving techniques that you can fall back on. Once you have chosen the technique, follow it relentlessly and you will be surprised at how quickly solutions begin to appear!