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Problem Solving

One way to reduce stress is to apply problem-solving skills to handle difficult situations when they arise. A standard problem-solving process can be used that consists of the following steps:

Step One – Problem Identification

First you have to identify what is causing difficulty. What is causing the problem?

Step Two – Problem Clarification

Be specific and complete. Is this the real problem, or is there a more fundamental problem?

Step Three – Identification of Alternatives

What are your options for dealing with the problem? List them on paper so you can see them. Try to list at least five possible solutions. This will give you more chance of choosing the best solution and give you some alternatives if your first choice doesn’t work.

Step Four – Projected Consequences of Each Alternative

What are the probable outcomes of each option? Ask yourself three questions:

  • What is the best possible thing that could happen if I choose this alternative?
  • What is the worst possible thing that could happen?
  • What is the most likely thing that will happen?

Step Five – Decision

Which option offers the best outcomes and seems to be the most reasonable choice for a solution? Make a decision based upon the alternatives you have.

Step Six – Action

Once you have decided on a solution to the problem, you need to plan how to carry it out. Making a plan answers the question, “What am I going to do about it?” A plan is a road map to achieve a goal. There are long-range goals and short-range goals. Long-range goals are achieved with short-range goals, one step at a time.

Step Seven – Follow Up

Carry out your plan and evaluate how it’s working.


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