According to Oxford dictionary, “a problem is a doubtful or a complicated matter that requires a solution.” We face problems having different levels of complexity, sometimes easy and sometimes difficult, in our academics, our personal life and at our workplaces. Believe it or not, we solve these problems every day as we naturally possess some problem-solving skills. However, some of us are very good at problem-solving while others aren’t that good. The question is, why? Why are some people better than others at problem-solving?
Individuals with strong problem-solving skills are the ones who are confident decision-makers and have strong analytical abilities. They comprehend a problem and predict its possible solutions based on the data they have and choose the best possible solution. So it would be alright to say that problem solving, depending upon the problem, requires an analytical as well as a creative approach. Interestingly, both of these skills can be developed with proper training, practice and by adopting some of the habits of good problem solvers.
Improve Problem Solving Skills
We have compiled a list of ways to improve problem-solving skills and have divided this article into two parts.
- The first part focuses on the personal development and habits that you need to incorporate in your life to improve and build confidence.
- The second part of focuses on the steps involved to solve a problem.
Are you ready to improve problem-solving skills? I know I am….
Personal Development and Habits
Before we talk about steps to address a problem more efficiently, let’s talk about its prerequisite – Personal Development. You need to harness and develop some qualities that will eventually improve problem-solving skills. People who are good at problem-solving are optimistic, confident and creative.
The following are some of the common habits of individuals with strong problem-solving abilities. You can practice these simple habits to strengthen your creative and analytical thinking.
1. Think about Solutions, Not the Problem
One of the first and critical habits to practice is to train your brain to focus on the solutions instead of the problems. When you think about obstacles too much, you feed your brain with the negativity that blocks out its capability to think of best possible solutions.
Instead, acknowledge the problem and try to keep yourself calm and relaxed. This way, your brain will automatically evaluate the situation and search for the best possible solutions.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Problems
Don’t be scared of problems; they are merely decisions that we need to make. Believe me; there is always a solution to a problem; you just need to comprehend it and choose one of the solutions.
3. Think Literally and Creatively
Try to think more creatively and literally. Look at the problem from different perspectives as the solution you seek may be lying on the opposite side of the place you’re looking right now. Ask yourself “what if” type questions. These questions stimulate your brain, and you think more creatively about the solutions.
Another thing that you can do is involve different people and ask for their viewpoint on the problem. Having multiple perspectives on a problem creates an entirely different approach that triggers new and fresh ideas for solutions.
4. Be Optimistic
If you think of problems with a more optimistic approach, you may be surprised to learn that having problems is a good thing as they are indicators that tell you something is wrong with your current plan and that you need to find a solution to that.
5. Do Not Panic.
We, humans, have a tendency to make our situations more complicated than they are with confusion and panic. When you face a problem, take some deep breaths, be calm and concentrate on finding a solution.
6. Share Your Problems
Personalities who are mentally and emotionally stable are naturally better problem solvers. That is why you must become mentally tough to improve your problem-solving skills. One of the very first attitudes that you need to become emotionally healthy is to be able to share your challenges and worries with people you trust. It is critical that you share your problems with only those people that you think would support and encourage you.
It is crucial to comprehend when to share your problems with others and when to keep them to yourself.
Steps to solve a problem
Although personal development is a significant part of the strategy to improve problem-solving skills, it is a slow process and requires a lot of hard work, but once you have developed the habits mentioned above, you can use the following six steps to solve a problem quickly with more efficiency:
1. Comprehend Problems Clearly
The first step to improving problem-solving skills and solve problems efficiently, swiftly and successfully is to understand the problem correctly. Understanding a problem is a crucial step because if you don’t understand the problem, how can you come up with a solution? Start asking yourself questions to understand the problem clearly. For instance, figure out whether the problem is a single issue or a combination of problems that can be broken down into multiple problems.
This is paramount because if the main problem is a collection of different issues, each of them might require an entirely different solution. The more you spend time understanding the question, the less you will spend on solving it. Take a pen and paper and write the problem(s) and possible solutions along with the outcome of each and their worst case scenarios.
Another thing that you have to consider during this step is your final goal. You need to be sure about what you want to achieve in the end. Remember, you might face known and unknown problems during your hustle to achieve your goal but with proper planning, you can solve them efficiently.
2. Gather Data
The second step to improve problem-solving skills is to collect as much data and facts about the problems as you can. For example, if you have a financial problem, try collecting data about your spending through analysis of your bank statements and your company records and identify where you can cut off your spending temporarily.
Collect your data from every possible source and talk to consultants and experts about your problem. Once you have enough data, analyze and organize it. You can even use charts and graphs for a better understanding of your problem. The more data you have, the more quickly you can predict outcomes and get to the best possible solutions.
3. Identify Root Causes
Every problem has a cause. Financial problems might be because of a company’s incautious spending. The issue of slow progress might be because of careless use of human resources. The point is, every problem has a cause, and you need to address it. Identification of these causes plays a vital role in helping you find solutions to problems.
4. Evaluate Complexity
After identification of all of the known problems standing in the way to achieving your goal, it’s time to identify their complexity so that you can assign priorities to them. Every problem has a certain level of complexity; it can be from very easy to critical and arduous.
Evaluate the complexity of each of the problems and prioritize them according to the degree of complexity. This will help in the development of the solution.
5. Analysis of Data for Better Solutions
Until this step, you have gathered enough data about your problems, goals, objectives and their complexity. Now is the time to analyze and come up with different solutions. During analysis look for all the links and relationships between the entities, for example, if you’re looking for where you are spending your money and from where it’s coming, look into your company records and bank statement for overall financial patterns.
Once you have analyzed the data, the next step is to generate all the potential solutions. Write down all the answers in descending or ascending order according to their advantages or disadvantages. In the end, you will have a fine possible solution in your hand.
This may seem like a lot of work but it’s crucial for the next step, to critically analyze the solutions and choose the best one.
6. Define a Plan and Stick to it
After identification of problems, goals, and collection of data, you must set a step-by-step plan as comprehensively as possible. Define every objective along with the timeline and resources it would cost. If you have completed previous steps correctly, you will be able to describe a plan that will help you find solutions to your problems.
Problem-solving is a must-have skill in today’s competitive world. We hope that you enjoyed our thoughts on how to improve problem-solving skills. We also suggest that you check out our Fearless Products which can help you by uplifting your spirit and heightening your sense of courageousness. Allowing you to gently affirm that you are fearless and that you are fully capable of handling any of life’s problems, obstacles, and issues.