How to Solve Problems Effectively
21st September, 2010
We all at times experience problems and seek solutions. How we go about seeking solutions will determine how speedily and effectively we solve problems.
What’s more when we attempt to solve a problem and fail the failed solution becomes part of the problem. This makes the original problem more complicated and difficult to solve. However by understanding a little psychology we can avoid failed solutions and become effective at problem solving. Errors in problem solving can be both time consuming and costly so it's well worthwhile learning to avoid them.
There are 5 mistakes, which we are hard wired to make. Read on to learn how to avoid them.
1. Constantly repeating the same failed solution. Whenever we encounter a problem if we have met it or something similar before we always return to the last successful solution. At one level this makes total sense we use our pre-existing knowledge rather than having to think through every situation from square one. This approach however does not take into account changing circumstances. For example you are hungry It's 11pm and there is nothing in the fridge. You pop down the road to the nearest take away. That provided a successful solution the last time this problem occurred. You weren’t aware however that it had changed opening hours or closed down. Your wasted journey could have been avoided had you phoned ahead to check out if anything had changed and by having alternative solutions available.
2. Trying everything but giving nothing an opportunity to work. A youngster with teenage spots might for example try a particular spot cream for two days decide it isn't effective and change brands. A couple of days later he decides that this one isn't working either and changes to a third. Any product or solution will appear to fail if not given adequate time to produce results. This equivalent to channel hopping in problem solving can only lead to frustration.
3. The commonly held belief that a problem can be solved using a general concept. For example- "I will get a promotion by making more effort at work" Or " I will improve my relationship with my teenage son by being nicer to him" What is needed here is an action plan with action steps. In the first example this could include always getting to work on time and volunteering to work on unpopular projects. In the second it could include spending more time talking with your teenage son or watching him play football.
4. Focusing on the problem rather than the solution. Focusing on the problem can only keep you stuck where you are. It is only by focusing on the solution that you can find it.
5. Failing to use your intuition and relying only on logical thought. Hunches may seem irrational but are generally based on an individuals experience or knowledge acquired over a long period of time. They can therefore at times be a useful short cut to problem solving. So if you have a hunch or flash of inspiration it’s best to check this out. Research it as a possible problem solving method rather than dismiss it. If your research supports your hunch there is a good chance that you have found your solution in this instance.
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