Three Strategies for Effective Problem Solving

problem solving

The women I work with are inherently good problem solvers. They are smart and creative in the way they approach obstacles. But every once in a while, they stumble across a challenge that stumps them and leaves them feeling stuck. In this post, I want to introduce you to three question-based strategies to help you get unstuck when you find yourself in a similar situation.

1.       The Power of Might

How many of you suffer from perfectionism? It’s something that I’ve struggled with my whole life and have written posts on the subject. I am proud of the fact that I now consider myself a “recovering perfectionist”. It’s taken years to get to this point and while I still struggle I’ve come a long way in dealing with this sometimes crippling condition. When you strive for absolutes you can lock up resulting in no action at all.  

One tip that I give my clients when dealing with perfectionism in their problem solving is to find a way to give themselves permission to experiment. One of the best ways to do this is to harness the power of the word “might”.

Instead of putting pressure on yourself to find the right next step, ask yourself what might be a good next step. What might you want to focus on next? What might a feasible solution be?

Making the shift from “is” to “might” releases you from the obligation of perfection. It opens your mind to possibilities that may or may not work allowing you the freedom to experiment with what may end up being the best solution.

2.       Keep it Safe

It’s not very often that you will come across a situation you’ve absolutely never been exposed to before. Meaning, when faced with a challenge you can typically look back on your life and find a similar situation that you’ve dealt with before. It may not be the exact situation but you usually can find some similarities.

Knowing that you’ve dealt with similar challenges before gives you comfort and a certain feeling of safety in your decision-making ability. The best way to keep it safe is to actually ask yourself what were some of the steps that you took last time. Then ask yourself why you think those steps were effective. So, essentially ask a WHAT question and then follow up with a WHY question.

Following a what with a why will help you find comfort and safety in your past decision-making ability freeing you up to trust your decision-making ability in the current situation.

3.       Consult Thyself

This is one of my favorite question-based strategies for problem solving. We all love giving advice and counsel to others. All of us feel we are really good at it. And we are. It’s usually much easier to solve problems for others because we aren’t attached to the situation.

So, if you are great with solving the issues of others, then what might you suggest to someone else in your situation? If you were going to walk a friend through their options, what would you suggest they do?

Giving yourself some distance will likely help you see solutions you hadn’t seen up to this point. Then offering advice to yourself like you would a friend will help the right solution come to light.

The bottom line is asking better questions can help you get unstuck and make you a more effective problem solver. Bonus: not only do these three question-based strategies work well within your own life, they are also great for teaching your kids how to become better problem solvers. Give them a try and let me know how they work!


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