Have you ever had someone begin telling you about an issue and by the time they finished you sat in confusion as to what the problem was, or better yet felt like you understood the problem, only to offer suggestions , feedback or whatever, to find you missed the mark. The person with the problem is now more frustrated. Or maybe you are the person with the problem, but you are overwhelmed and having issues finding a solution.
So, the first step in the problem solving process is to identifying the issue(s), one issue at a time, listing each issue on a separate piece of paper.
With step one complete, and moving on to step two, let me ask you another question: When you have an issue/ problem does it sometimes seem difficult to find a solution? Or have you ever noticed your friend(s) having a difficult time finding a solution to their problem(s)?
We have either been the person with the problem or had a friend who was having a difficult time and could not seem to find any possible solutions to their problem. Sometimes it is a matter of being attached to the outcome and thus becoming reactive, often making the wrong decision or freezing, not making any decisions (welcome to being human). If this is the case, before you go on to step two, take a walk, meditate, practice deep breathing and grounding techniques or seek help from someone in your support system because step two in the problem solving process is to Identify ALL possible solutions.
Write down every possible solution. If you think it, then write it down. Nothing at this stage of the problem solving is right or wrong. We are just thinking, and writing.
Step three is to list the pros and cons of each possible solution you listed in step two; eliminating those that could cause additional harm, like robbing a bank. Robbing a bank might have been on your list in step two, but after really evaluating the pros and cons you have decided there are to many cons so ou mark it off the list.
Now, you are left with possible solutions that are plausible for you, now rank them in order deciding which one or ones you are going to do, then in what order.
Next, make a plan for each possible solution asking What, When, Where , Who and How type of questions.
Complete the plan.
Last step, PAUSE...and evaluate. How did it go? Is your problem fixed or not? What did you learn that will be helpful the next time there is an issue/ problem? What did you learn that you will not do next time?
I hope that helps :)
Loretta Gilmore MSW, LCSW