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Problem Solving – Step 3 – Evaluate and Choose

Young Woman Standing Over a Car Engine Bay Checking An Oil DipstickYou have identified the problem, looked at it from different positions and expanded it to include all possible contributing factors. In the process, you have compared it to other problems you may have had and resolved; then proceeded to compile a list of possible solutions.

As you brainstormed and generated possibilities, fresh ideas were inserted into your list without preliminary judgment or comparisons. With inspiration exhausted, the time has now come to evaluate and prioritize.

Which are relevant and helpful to your situation?  Which might point to another possibility you hadn’t thought of yet? In this step, do not preclude your initial inclinations to cross off any ideas that in this moment may seem too useless or inappropriate.

Go through your list and put a number one by those that seem the most practical.  Then go back and continue to prioritize them in order of importance to you.  Look again at choices that may seem to be contradictory or illogical with what you want. Sometimes our answers are hidden in paradoxes.

For example, how can I put something away and not put it away at the same time?  Hanging earrings on a bedroom wall is both storing and displaying them.  The same is true with a wall mounted rack to hang and “store” knifes kitchen.

Give yourself permission to think outside the box.  Take your choices and begin to look at them in different ways.  Allow yourself to formulate a fresh perspective of the problem and potential solutions.

Play devil’s advocate.  See your position from an alternative point of view.  For example, as a writer, I review what I have written from my perspective.  However, to become a published author the material requires seeing it from the eyes of a reader, an editor and a publisher.

When working on a communication problem, you are not only looking at the communication breakdown and how that is experienced by the different people involved, but also considering what the other wants in terms of resolution.  Without that, any intervention that you think will resolve the problem can only create more problems.

Now go back over your list and write beside each option the pros and cons connected with it.  What would be the short term and long term results?  What would happen if you chose this option?  What would happen if didn’t choose it?

Before trying on one of the solutions, step number four, visualize how each of the possibilities may play out in reality.

Marlene Anderson

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