[headline_arial_large_centered color=”#CC0000″]You Can’t Solve A Problem By Continuing To Focus On The Problem[/headline_arial_large_centered]
A key part of solving problems is that you cannot solve a problem while you continue to think about it. What does this mean? Let’s say you’re having an on-going argument with one of your kids and you start to label them. So it’s, “Well, you never do your homework after school.” Now your child is someone who never does their homework after school. “Well you never eat all your supper.” Okay, now your child is someone who never eats their supper. See what I’m doing here? And we do, we project onto them the problem. What we want to learn to do is to start to project on them the solution. The preferred behavior.
So if my child is not eating their supper, I need to see them as someone who eats their supper, then I have to approach that accordingly so that’s the behavior that ends up happening. I remember taking a course about ten years ago, where I paid several hundred dollars to attend this training, and I learned a five-step problem solving model there, that would forever change how I looked at problems. In fact, when I use this approach, I don’t just use this with my family, but I also use it in the workplace, I use it everywhere because you can apply to anywhere and anything, and any situation.
When you use this, you’ll never again be stuck looking for solutions. There will always be a solution to a problem. This is what we call the five step problem-solving approach.
How To Come Up With Multiple Solutions To Any Problem
The first step of this approach is to define the problem. You want to be clear, and to understand what is really happening. For a lot of us, this is not step one. For a lot of us, step 1 is just go and solve the problem. We’re always like fire fighters, we’re always putting out the fires. Here’s a problem, there’s a problem, everywhere a problem – and we always feel we have to go solve them.
So for most of us, we go straight into trying to solve the problem without figuring it out first. Then it becomes this never ending hamster wheel of ‘Problem comes up, we solve it. Problem comes up, we solve it” but it never gets to the root of the matter, to prevent it from happening for good. The title of this program is How to Eliminate the Child Behavior Problems for Good. How do we get rid of them for good? What is it that we have to do?
As I mentioned, you have to be clear and to truly understand what is really happening. Then we have to take that one step further and gather some more information. What feelings is the other person experiencing? You want to have a good grasp of both sides of the situation as best you can. Sometimes this means having a conversation and being inquisitive and actually observing and really trying to understand what are the feelings? What are the behaviors? What are the expectations that are present on both sides? Because when there is a problem, there may be a mismatch. “My feelings do not match the other person’s.” Or “My expectations don’t match the other person’s.” This leads to conflict, so you need to understand from both sides what is going on.
Only when you truly understand the problem and why it is happening can you move onto the next step, which is to generate possible solutions. From here, because you have a better understanding of the problem, I can brainstorm all possible solutions; and you can do this with the other person. So let’s say you’re having an argument with your teenager. You can go through these steps together and work them out together. “Okay, well, we’re going to do this together. We’re going to understand the problem, we’re going to understand the feelings and we’re going to generate some possible solutions. So let’s come up with ten ways that we could possibly solve the problem and make it better. We’re going to brainstorm those solutions without judgment.” You’re not judging those solutions as to whether or not you think they will work, but anything that comes to mind, anything that is mentioned – you put it on the list and look at it later.
That’s step four. You carefully review the list of all the solutions you came up with and carefully decide which solution you like best, or which one you and your teenager can get behind. In the case of resolving conflict with another person, which solution can you both get behind? Which one can you both accept, which one has the best chance of working? You choose that one and you follow through with it. It’s very easy to think of a solution, to choose it, then not follow through with it. It’s very easy to not truly follow through. That’s why it requires patience sometimes to see something through to its conclusion. You need patience to allow time for the thing to actually happen.
You want to then be evaluating the outcome. Did it work? After giving it a reasonable amount of time to work, you decide that it isn’t doing what you wanted, you can go back to your list and choose something else. Or now with new understanding, you may be able to come up with something that you hadn’t considered before.
If you follow this process, you will find that you actually can’t get stuck with no solutions ever again. The only way you can get stuck is if you give up, if you stop. If you follow this model, you can never give up because a solution will always, eventually present itself. When you get to the root of the matter, it will no longer be a problem in the future.