Breedlove's Briefing: 6 Techniques to Better Your Problem-Solving Skills

January 13 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

6 Techniques to Better Your Problem-Solving Skills

Who it’s for:

Everyone. Effective problem-solving skills open career doors – forever.

Why it’s important:

Success is largely dependent upon how effectively we solve problems. If this is not a skill you have been focusing on, it’s time to move it up on the priority list. Solving problems and making good decisions make us successful in life. Decision-making often seems like it is easier than it is. To feel comfortable making decisions, you have to improve your problem-solving skills. By identifying the problem you need to solve and thinking through ways for tackling it, decisions become easier to make.

Here are 6 techniques for becoming a better problem-solver and decision-maker.

  1. Develop a Step-by-Step Approach. Psychologists have developed a systematic approach, known as The Problem-Solving Cycle, for discovering sustainable solutions to problems. It starts with identifying the problem. After defining the problem, formulate a strategy for solving it. There is always more than one way to solve a problem, so formulate multiple strategies to aid in selecting the best option and for having backups if Plan A isn’t successful. Collect as much data as possible before you spring into action to increase the probability of success. Once a strategy is put into execution, monitor its progress, and evaluate the results. Did you achieve your goals?
  2. Ask Solution-Oriented Questions. Asking the right questions matters. For example, rather than ask “Why can’t I get more customers?,” ask solution-oriented questions such as “What 3 things can I do differently than my competition?” or “What would I have to do in the next month to get 10 new customers?”
  3. Change Your Mindset. When you view a problem as burdensome, you avoid it. What if you viewed problems as opportunities? You may see them as a way to grow and may not see them as stressful. What’s more, your mind will analyze the problem more easily. Avoid lingering on negative first impressions of a problem and focus on the problem as it really is. For example, if your car won’t start in the morning, don’t focus on how late you may be for the first meeting of the day. Instead, focus on the actual problem: “The car won’t start.” Boiling it down helps bring clarity of the best possible solutions. For example, “I’m going to leave 10 minutes earlier each day to give me the option to catch the train in case this happens again,” or “Maybe I should see if Joe would like to start a carpool.”
  4. Work with Your Hands. Experiential learning can wire our brains for successful problem-solving. Adults can improve their problem-solving skills by playing chess or Sudoku, or manipulating a Rubik’s cube, or playing board games with friends.
  5. Ask for Help. Put your ego aside and ask others for help. Even if you can solve the problem on your own, working with others will bring fresh ideas and vantage points you will not develop on your own.
  6. Take Time to Reflect and Celebrate. Has your car ever been stuck in the mud? If you keep hitting the gas pedal, you are only going to dig in deeper. The same is true when solving a problem. If you keep going full-throttle, you’ll burn out without a solution. Take time to walk away and recharge. Additionally, make time to celebrate your accomplishments. It’s a simple way to reinforce the belief that you have what it takes to triumph over difficult situations.

Top Take-Away: Regardless of the size of the issue at hand, developing a problem-solving process and a set of strong skills doesn’t just allow for good decision-making, it will also help you prioritize your time and focus for tackling what really matters.

A Few More
Ways to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills:

Skills You Need: Problems Solving

7 Problem Solving Skills You Need to Improve to Get More Done

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