A problem is any unpleasant situation which prevents people from achieving what they want to achieve. Any activity to eliminate a problem is termed problem solving.

Problem solving skills refers to our ability to solve problems in an effective and timely manner without any impediments.

It involves being able to identify and define the problem, generating alternative solutions, evaluating and selecting the best alternative, and implementing the selected solution. Obtaining a feedback and responding to it appropriately is an essential aspect of problem solving skills too.

We face problems every time. However, some problems are more complex than others. But whether you face big problems or small ones, this skill helps solve it effectively.

Importance of problem solving skills

Obviously, every organization has problems and every individual has problems too. For this reason, the ability to solve problems is of great importance to individuals and organizations. Some of the benefits include:

  • Make the impossible possible. Knowledge alone is not the key to solving problems but rather, complimenting it with systematic problem solving approaches makesthe difference. This helps individuals and organizations overcome perilous challenges.
  • Makes you a stand out. People are trained to do the usual. They have acquired skills and knowledge in what they do. However, people can hardly solve problems when they are unexpected or unprecedented ones. If you become a regular problem solver at your workplace, you are easily noticed, recognized, and appreciated.
  • Increased confidence. No matter where you work or what your profession is, having the ability to solve problems will boost your confidence level. Because you are sure of your ability to solve problems, you don’t spend time worrying about what you will do if a problem should arise.

How to improve upon problem solving skills

Just like any of the other skills, the art of problem solving can be learnt and improved upon. Below are few tips to help you improve this skill.

  • Detach yourself from the problem. Don’t regard yourself as the problem itself and don’t presume you are incapacitated to solve the problem. See the problem as the enemy that has to be defeated by you.
  • Analyze it in parts and not as a whole. Don’t see the problem as a whole big unit that needs to be fixed – That may deter you from attempting to solve it. Rather, break it into parts and tackle them step by step, and portion by portion. The little pieces you solve will add up to become the solution for the whole unit. For instance; if there’s turmoil in your organization, analyze the various aspects or departments of the organization. Choose one problematic area, such as communication, to start from. When that is fixed, you may move on to the other problematic areas.
  • Be inquisitive and investigative. Being inquisitive and conducting thorough investigation and research helps you identify what the core of the problem is. In other words, it grants you access to the cause of the problem. Once the real cause of the problem is known, it becomes easier to solve it.
  • Be open to suggestions. Other people’s contributions can be very helpful. It saves you the time of having to search for every piece of information that is needed.
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