How to Help Others Solve Problems in 8 Steps

How to Help Others Solve Problems in 8 Steps

Problems! We all have them, and they can so often create incredible amounts of pressure and stress. A small problem for one person can seem like a mountain of stress for another.

The problem can feel too big, and that there is no way of solving it.

People also come to you with their problems and hope you have some magic wand to fix them.

A burden shared is a burden halved. T.A. Webb

In this post, I will give you a tool that will take the pressure off you and empower others to see their problem solved.

Dr. Ian Falloon developed the Problem Solving Sheet for Helping people with Psychotic disorders. Here is a link to a research paper.

What I love about this process 

  1. It is a formulated process. A step-by-step process, not just a random ‘free for all’ of throwing out ideas.
  2. It is written down, so we don’t have to rely on faulty memory systems to remember who does what.
  3. There is a team approach to finding the solution and carrying it out.
  4. It empowers the person with the problem to take ownership of finding the solution.

Crucial consideration.

Don’t solve the problem for the person. Instead, help them find the solution.

Involve them all the way through. A solution they are deeply involved in the making will be far more motivating than a solution made for them by others.

The 8 Steps to Solving Problems

Let’s go through the process step by step.


Problem Solving Sheet
Problem Solving Sheet by Dr. Ian Falloon

1. Get a team of supporters together.
Of course, this will include the one needing the problem solved, but it may also include spouse, friend, family members, and anyone else you consider would help solve the problem.

2. Pray.
I always like to pray and ask God to be part of the process and to be filling the group with creative ideas.

3. Identify the Problem.
This is probably the trickiest part of the process. We often have so many different problems that it’s hard to choose which one to tackle first. It might be helpful to list them all out and rate them each on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being a problem causing the most stress. You can always come back to the other problems later.
As you go through the process, you may well have to redefine the problem as more information comes to light.

4. Generate Possible Solutions.
List all the possible solutions, don’t worry about the quality of the solutions at this stage. Don’t discount anything.
Try to list ten solutions, be creative. If creativity and fun are encouraged new solutions may often appear that no one would have thought of. The brain needs permission to explore. So include all ideas, even ‘bad’ or ‘silly’ suggestions. Get everyone to suggest something.

DO NOT talk about whether ideas are good or bad at this stage. We don’t want to shut down people’s creativity.

5. Evaluate alternatives.
Get the group to say what they think are the main advantages and disadvantages of each suggestion. Start by considering the positive aspects of each solution and then the negative. Do not write these comments down. It is just a general discussion.

6. Decide on a Solution.
Choose the solution that can be carried out most easily with the resources (time, skills, materials, money, etc.) that you have at present. This could be a solution from the list developed or a combination of some of the ideas suggested.

7. Plan exactly how to carry out the solution.
Write down the solution as clearly as possible. List out what needs to be done and by when. Organize how to get anything that is needed to solve the problem.
Consider how to cope with likely hitches. Practice any difficult steps. Set a Date and time to review how progress is going with the plan

8. Review progress in carrying out the plan.
Praise all the efforts people have made. Do a quick review making sure you praise any effort made to solve the problem. You’ve got to accentuate the positive.
This is not a time to play the blame and shame game. This is a time to review and possibly problem solve any issues that have arisen. The existing plan may need to be revised or a new plan made.


Quotes to consider

  • I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. Abraham Maslow
  • We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. Albert Einstein
  • If you choose not to deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue, and it will select the path of least resistance. Susan Del Gatto
  • We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a stroke problem. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right – one after the other, no slip-ups, no goofs, and everyone pitching in. Atul Gawande
  • A problem well put is half solved. John Dewey
  • A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
  • It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. Malcolm S. Forbes

Further reading

5 Keys to Help Grow a Persons Confidence

How A To-Do-List Can Help You Off To Sleep

Barry Pearman

Photo by Francisco Moreno on Unsplash


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