When in a relationship, be it at work, home, church, or grocery store, we often have to problem solve with others. Problem solving is a basic psychological fitness skill that we use all day long. Good problem solving skills mean that we can also cope and communicate effectively.
Tensions can arise in problem solving interactions when we are not given space and/or grace or we do not offer space or grace to others.
In order to find a resolution to a challenge and engage in a decision making process to solve a problem, we need space to communicate and think and the grace to be vulnerable and allow for differences in the process.
To create space and offer grace, focus on YOUR ideas. Communicate what YOU are thinking. Communicate what YOU are feeling. Use statements such as, “I am thinking about this resolution….” or “I feel this may be the way to go.” Don’t defend or promote your position when you first announce your idea. Simply present it. Then create space and LISTEN.
Allow the other(s) to share their ideas. When responding, use empathy and reflect back to the other person the emotional and cognitive data you gathered while you listened. Again, don’t defend and/or promote your position. Simple empathize.
Once all have had a chance to place their initial stake in the ground, and you have empathized, collaborate. Uses statements such as, “I like what you suggested and that works well with what I suggested…” Select the elements of your idea and the elements of the other’s ideas that resonate with you and combine them into a consensus solution. Present the consensus to the other person. Again, don’t defend or promote, just present.
Continue to negotiate. Combining and mixing the elements from your ideas and the other’s ideas into one cohesive solution.