Problem solving skills will help you in your personal life, your professional life, and, if you are a student, in your student life. Being able to effectively solve problems is a skill that recruiters and employers are looking for in prosepective employees. Understanding how to interpret a problem, break it down into its components and discover the real issue underlying the problem is something that can be learned, and with a little practice, implemented in ways that will greatly improve your communication skills.

Things You Will Need

A problem and time to solve it.

Step 1

Recognize problems as obstacles to reaching individual goals, taking care of needs, and/or achieving purposes. To this end, it is important to determine and then constantly re-evaluate and articulate your goals, needs, and purpose. If you are not sure what they are, you will not recognize a problem when it arises.

Step 2

When problems do arise, try to handle them one at a time. Review the problem and state it clearly and concisely, if at all possible. Clarify the issue with others to see if you really understand the problem and the issues surrounding it.

Step 3

Take the time to study the problem and determine what kind of problem it is. Is it something you have some control over? There is no sense in trying to solve a problem you have no control over, so set those problems aside and concentrate on the ones you can solve. What do you need to solve the problem? Make a list and gather the information needed before you start to work on solving the problem.

Step 4

Review the information you gather and draw some reasonable conclusions from it. Is the problem something you can solve yourself or do you need some help? What are the kinds of actions you need to take to solve the problem? Is there a short term solution or is this going to take some time? Make sure you understand your limitations when it comes to budget, time, and power.

Step 5

Review your options, looking at them in terms of what will work best, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how they can be implemented. Using a strategic approach to implementing the options is best. A strategic approach may mean adopting a wait-and-see strategy or it may involve direct action, but be sure to follow through on the strategy you choose to use.

Problem solving is not just 'fixing' something and going on to the next issue. It requires monitoring of the results of the stragegy, and being ready to change strategies if the first one doesn't work.

Tips & Warnings

Sometimes as a solution is implemented, more information comes to light so you need to be prepared to change your strategy, the analysis or even the problem statement.