Mental Health, stress management

How to develop your problem-solving skills

Most people have a negative “What if” attitude that inhibits them from developing expert problem-solving skills. In many cases, a person is too hesitant to attempt problem-solving due to feelings of inadequacy or incompetence. Negative self-image causes a person to think that his techniques will surely fail or will not be accepted by others.
Additionally, someone that lacks creativity, ingenuity, and an inability to think out of the box will have difficulty in problem-solving. Many times we take ourselves too seriously and forget the child within us all that can devise ingenious ways out of a particularly difficult issue.


Stress, performance pressure, and fatigue are also contributors to a person’s inability to get past problems successfully. Emotions like anger, bitterness, depression, guilt, anxiety, and self-pity hinder effective problem-solving. A person attempting any type of problem-solving should be flexible, mentally tough to all possibilities, and be generally motivated about his ability to solve the problem.

So how do you develop these skills?

The key is to approach situations in the right way. People who don’t have good skills in this area tend to approach a problem very differently from those who do have good skills. For example, they may fret about how they will solve the problem because they don’t feel able to do it. This is a good way to identify how robust your own problem-solving skills are at the moment. Do you feel helpless when faced with a problem? Or do you immediately start thinking about how you could tackle it effectively?
We can see that your point of view is instrumental in the development of your problem-solving skills. A pro-active stance is necessary to look at the problem from all sides to determine a way forward that will bring the results you desire.

While some people react to a problem by diving in before they evaluate it properly, others are almost frozen by fear – the fear that whatever they do could result in failure. The correct route to take is a kind of middle ground between these two extremes. You should stand back and evaluate the problem from all sides before thinking of all the ways you could solve it. This is an essential technique to master if you want to further your leadership skills in the future.

Find the actual problem

The first thing to do is to check that you are focusing on the actual core problem and not the mess that the problem has created. To do this you have to make sure you gather all the relevant facts.
Having identified the real problem, you then need to brainstorm some possible solutions. Once that is done ask yourself what would happen if you took a particular route over another one. Look at the benefits and the challenges/costs of each solution and then weigh them up. Jot down your thoughts and evaluate them side by side to see which route would be the best one to take. This helps to develop your problem-solving skills and gets your brain into the right place to find solutions that are usable and workable. The value of the solution will ultimately be based on how much the benefits you’ve identified will outweigh the challenges/costs.

Bottom Line

You may come up with more than one possible solution to a problem. In this case, you would need to consider other factors as well before making your final decision on how to solve that problem, such as the amount of time each solution would take to put into practice.
One final point – the speed with which you address problems will both assist in their speedy resolution and also show your substance as a leader.

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