Positive Polarity
by Dave Molenda
December 19th, 2013

The Problem with Problem Solving

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”

―Albert Einstein

What wisdom that this simple sentence shares with us. While I think that we are all good problem solvers, there are times that we do what Albert Einstein warned us against. So, today, I want to share with you some tips on how to improve your problem solving ability in hopes that you can excel in this area of your life in 2014!

Eight things to consider when problem solving:

1. Seek out the facts. Opinions, feelings and views sometimes cover the facts and then yield a different result. Focus on the facts!

2. Restate the facts. It is imperative to make sure that you understand the same facts as the rest of the parties do. Retell them in your own words, so you understand them and can own them.

3. Ask Questions. The best way to understand the problem is by asking questions of all those involved. Interview, don’t interrogate.

4. Debate the results. There is a fine balance between a “yes” person and one who never agrees with anyone. If you have a differing opinion about how to solve the problem, state it, and be okay either way with the result.

5. Listen to the other side. In the midst of a conversation, make sure that you are listening to the other side and not just formulating the rebuttal in your head. There is nothing wrong with silence in a conversation. It will allow the person you are talking to finish their thought and it signifies that you can reply.

6. Assign the next steps. Once a solution has been found, then it is important to assign the responsibility for the next steps so that there is no mutual mystification. Nothing worse than a solution being arrived at and no one does anything with it.

7. Execute. Once a plan is established, it must be executed rapidly. A delay in problem solving is a costly mistake. Statistics show that 95 percent of clients with a complaint will come back if it is resolved quickly.

8. Follow up. It is amazing to me how many people stumble on this. Think about all the times you, as a consumer have had a poor experience. It goes like this: You have the problem, then they try to solve the problem and hope that you go away. These customers can be your biggest advocates … drown them in follow up. Would it be better to over follow up than under follow up?

If you follow these simple, yet effective guidelines, you will shine the next time you have to solve a problem … which might be in the next five minutes, so get to work remembering these!

Stay Positive!

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