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9 Ways to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving. A very intriguing, yet essential subject to be discussed. More than 73% of people with significant analytical skills earn no less than six figures. Our job market is expanding exponentially, so there is no room for unskilled personnel. Problem-solving can draw the line between the qualified and the unqualified.

Employers, interviewers, recruiters – they all want the best for their company. Their main goal is to improve their firm’s outcomes and increase their profits; and these two objectives can only be accomplished through hiring the most efficient employees on the market. But how can one be efficient without solving problems quickly or thinking outside the box?

Because problem-solving skills are crucial in today’s society, here are some questions that could enhance your qualities, and guide you towards your desired results.

1. What is the problem?

The first step to problem solving is to make sure you identify the problem accurately before making any other decisions. Find the definition of the problem and reasons why it is important to solve it. When looking for the interpretation, follow these next steps:

  • Find the cause. Why are you thinking about that problem anyways? Why is it bothering you?
  • Find the meaning. What meaning does it have to you?
  • Find the purpose. Why do you care?

2. How is the problem affecting you?

Now analyze the problem. Ask yourself “how?”, “why?,” and “what for?” You must find answers to all these questions in order to solve your concern. Knowing why we find solutions and how we do it is an important step of the process. If you don’t have answers to all of the questions, give yourself a break, get some fresh air/meditate/get some food, and don’t start working on solutions until you are satisfied with your explanations.

3. Is it important enough?

Although it might sound like a silly question, asking yourself whether it’s worth it is actually smart. Have you ever said “yes” to an irrational request? All of a sudden, you’re overwhelmed by endless tasks and unpleasant, stressful circumstances? That’s exactly how choosing the wrong problem to deal with feels like. Make sure you know what you get yourself into before you start!

4. What could stop you?

It’s time to identify possible threats or things that might go wrong during the process. If, for instance, you are aware that there might be people getting in the way, think about how you’ll solve that extra problem too. Some questions to reflect on:

  • Do you have enough resources to solve the problem? Why and why not?
  • Do you have the necessary environment? Why and why not?
  • Is there anybody that could be negatively affected during the process? If so, how can you make the transition for them?

5. What are your targets?

Kane Ranchero, HR Director at, shares his opinion. “It’s important to find personal goals, and attach them to your motivation. Solving problems takes time, commitment and perseverance. Without a good reason, motivation won’t last long. Make sure you set clear objectives from the start.”

Also, your goals should be:

  • Attainable. Set achievable goals.
  • Exact. Don’t make them too broad, specify what you want out of it.
  • Important. You can’t set goals that won’t bring in any benefits.

6. What are three possible solutions?

Now that you’ve identified the causes, the goals and the importance of the matter, feel free to come up with solutions. Try to find at least three to begin with. Start from the one that you think it’s the most appropriate for the situation, then choose a second one that’s creative and could potentially succeed and leave the third for “emergency situations.”

7. Is there anybody else who could help?

If you think working on solutions is a piece of cake, wait and see! Find people that could help you solve the problem. The more, the merrier. Ask your coworkers, your boss and friends you trust with these matters for feedback. Problem-solving can truly be exhausting and very consuming. That’s why it’s so important to have the right people around you whom you can ask for help if needed, it will make you feel more confident that you’ll succeed.

8. What if things go wrong?

If things go wrong, you will be prepared by:

  • Setting up a plan D if necessary
  • Reanalyzing the importance of the matter
  • Being open-minded and accepting feedback
  • Asking for more help and trying again

9. Will you rethink the problem?

If, after the second try, plans fail again, it’s time to reconsider the problem. Maybe you did not define it correctly, or maybe you didn’t have enough time to think it through. Whatever the impediment is, make sure you find it, and get it out of your way.


Solving problems is an important skill to have. Make sure you follow the aforementioned steps, and begin solving the problem as quickly as possible! But remember: analyze it first, and only then act upon it.

Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you strengthen your problem-solving skills and move up in the workplace? Browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!

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About the Author Chris Richardson

Chris Richardson is an editor and a blogger from London. He is passionate about writing, traveling, and photography. Chris loves to meet new people and talk about modern education and technologies. Follow him on Google+.

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