RSS Solution-Based Thinking

How do you think about a problem in a healthy way? My suggestion is to focus on the solution – not the problem.

I’ve had several conversations recently with individuals who are facing dilemmas that cause them varying degrees of angst. This is something that we all deal with from time to time, and it can become quite debilitating if not handled appropriately.

One of the common sources of my own frustrations occurs when I focus my attention on the problem itself. Sometimes, I get so concerned about how the problem occurred – who or what is the source of the problem, or the fact that the desired outcome wasn’t met– that I neglect how best to move forward. This serves no useful purpose to me and, only exacerbates the issue.

When I take a moment to reflect during these times of stress, I realize that I am much better off focusing my energies toward identifying solutions. I think this advice is helpful regardless of whether the issue was my own doing or created by others.

Allow me to offer a brief example. Let’s imagine that one of your coworkers has made a decision that adversely affects your work. Some people might spend a lot of time focusing on their teammate in a negative way, looking for ways to “get back” at the coworker. Obviously, this type of thinking rarely leads to anything good, and in fact can have ramifications even deeper into the organization. I propose that a wiser, more positive approach is to focus on a solution that (a) minimizes the negative consequences and (b) prevents the same type of issue from happening again.

Here are four starting points for solution-based thinking:

  1. Initiate a “friendly” conversation between you and your coworker to resolve the matter collaboratively.
  2. Ignore the issue if it is an “honest” mistake.
  3. Resolve the problem yourself by changing the work dynamic in some way.
  4. Elevate the matter to his or her supervisor for ongoing issues.

By brainstorming several solutions, you can maintain a positive focus; a positive focus will lead to a more productive outcome.

Ultimately, our happiness and success at work, and in life, is determined by the choices we make. Try hard to focus on solutions - those that create the least amount of collateral damage and improve prospects for future success. Really, the concept of focusing on solutions is pertinent outside the workplace, as well. The issues our federal legislators are dealing with, for instance, seem to stem from an incessant focus on the negative, rather than on solutions that will benefit our country long-term. I hope they all get a chance to read this blog post!

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4 Responses to “Solution-Based Thinking”

  1. Mark Brem says:

    Great post Mitch! When you change your own thinking during a negative situation you really can change the outcome! Thank you!

  2. Mitch says:

    Thanks, Mark – I appreciate the positive feedback!

  3. Phoebe Krueger, Employee at Pacific Continental Bank says:

    Thanks for the great insight, Mitch! I think this post is great reminder for us all to think about how to solve problems and move forward, rather than dwell on passing blame and being resentful.

  4. Mitch says:

    Phoebe, I’m glad to hear that it was a helpful reminder!

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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