What To Ask When Problem Solving With Others

I’m the type of person who will run into trouble without thinking of the consequences.  This can be very heroic and very moronic at the same time.  I don’t know why I react without thinking, maybe it’s because I’m very emotionally driven?  Either way I’m not always the best problem solver.  Because of this I have had to work very hard in order to process, discern and reflect on certain situations.
As much as I would like to be able to solve problems on my own, I’ve learned that I need the insight, wisdom and prudence of others to tackle some of the big ones.  Sometimes working on a team to solve a problem is easier said than done.  There can be a lot of pride, confusion and disagreement.  That’s why anytime I’m about to work with others on solving a problem I try to answer these four questions first:

  1. What Do You Want To Say?  As mentioned before I’m an emotionally driven being that likes to react.  Because, I think about actions I hardly think about words.  The best thing to do before leaning into the conflict is to write out what it is you want to say.  Read it back to yourself out loud, and then if there is time get some feedback from a trusted individual. 
  2. Are You Willing To Listen? Words feel like powerful tools that can help us take charge of a situation.  If we speak we feel as if we are in control; however, if we talk too much we can come off foolish.  Make sure part of your collaboration, and research involve listening.  Sometimes you need that outside perspective and insight to really solve a problem.
  3. What Are Your Solutions? Know what you want to propose even if it isn’t anything.  Most people like to pose a problem without offering any solutions, that can be frustrating to those who are trying to help.  It’s important to generate ideas, even if they don’t go anywhere.  Even if your solution seems senseless you need to throw it out there and give it the opportunity to mature.
  4. What Do You Envision As The Outcome? You need a vision for your ministry and your life.  You also need vision for your problems.  Before heading into a collaboration session or leaning into a problem ask yourself, “What would I like to see emerge from this situation?”  Many times it’s your vision that will give you the perseverance and persistance to see the scenario resolved.

It’s great to have emotion behind what it is you do; however, it’s important not to allow them to derail your mission.  The emotions is what fuels your movement; however, discernment is what will guide the path.  Most importantly pace yourself, take the time to slow down and ask yourself these questions.

What’s the first step you take to addressing a problem?  

Out of the four questions which one do you struggle with the most?