Problems are an inevitable aspect of life. We all face challenges in different areas of our lives including our work, creative pursuits, relationships, and personal growth. While some problems can be solved easily, others can take weeks or even months to figure out. It’s natural to obsess over finding a solution when we’re faced with a problem, but there are effective problem-solving techniques that can help us overcome obstacles more efficiently.
Before diving into problem-solving techniques, it’s important to understand the two stages of creativity – ideation and evaluation. Ideation is the brainstorming stage where we come up with as many possible solutions as we can without judgment or evaluation. Evaluation, on the other hand, is when we analyze each solution to determine what works and what doesn’t. Understanding these stages is crucial when it comes to problem-solving, as it helps us generate and evaluate different solutions more effectively.
Here are seven effective problem-solving techniques that people in-the-know rely on:
1. Lean on Your Squad
Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to collaborate with others. A group of people can bring different approaches and perspectives to the table, and exploring possible solutions as a group can be much more effective than trying to solve a problem alone. Group collaboration takes on an emergent quality, similar to an ant colony, where the complicated organization of the group comes out of each individual’s unique contributions.
2. Regulate Your Emotions
Be honest about how you’re feeling, and take steps to regulate your emotions before delving into problem-solving. It’s essential to take a break and calm down if you’re feeling stressed out or upset. Taking a walk, doing breathing exercises, or practicing mindfulness can help you regain your sense of presence and enter an optimal problem-solving state.
Listening is a crucial problem-solving technique that often gets overlooked. Good problem solvers collect all the information they can and process it carefully before attempting to solve the problem. By listening to different points of view and perspectives, we can gain a better understanding of the problem.
4. Don’t Label Ideas as Bad Yet
Gather as many possible solutions as you can without evaluating, judging, or criticizing ideas during the ideation stage. When we evaluate during ideation, we inadvertently hamper creativity and limit the number of possible solutions. During ideation, we want as many ideas as possible, so reserve evaluation until there’s no more ideating left to do. Another effective ideation technique is to “Yes And” each other’s ideas. Yes Anding means building on each other’s ideas without judgment, leading to more fully-realized solutions.
5. Approach Problems With Playfulness
Approaching problem-solving too seriously can exacerbate the problem. When we’re too fixated on finding solutions, we can lose a sense of playfulness and fun. Children approach problem-solving with imagination and playfulness, leading to innovative solutions. Embracing play and playfulness can lead to out-of-the-box solutions.
6. Let the Unconscious Mind Roam
When you become too fixated on a problem, take a break and let your unconscious mind take over for a bit. Our conscious mind can only handle a limited amount of information at a time, and it’s energetically draining to use it for problem-solving. Our unconscious mind can integrate tons more information and arrive at solutions. Taking a break from the problem and allowing for subconscious processing can lead to breakthroughs and innovative solutions.
7. Break It Down Into Smaller Chunks
Sometimes, a problem can be overwhelming, making it difficult to know where to start. Breaking the problem down into smaller, more manageable chunks can make the situation less daunting. Starting with smaller tasks can give us a sense of progress and accomplishment, leading to increased motivation and momentum.
In conclusion, while problems can be challenging and frustrating, there are effective problem-solving techniques that can help us overcome obstacles and emerge victorious. Whether collaborating with others, regulating emotions, listening, ideating, approaching problems with playfulness, letting the unconscious mind roam, or breaking it down into smaller chunks, each technique can help us become more effective problem-solvers. By incorporating these problem-solving techniques into our lives, we can build resilience and become better equipped to handle life’s challenges.