Often couples will come to see me, because they are having difficulty communicating. Solving problems is a common complaint. Solving problems is a rational behavior. Often emotions cloud the problem-solving process.
I encourage couples to take turns actively listening to each other. Try to understand where your partner is coming from without judgment, defending or criticizing. After you listen and begin to understand where your partner is coming from, validate your partner’s experience. Validation doesn’t mean you have to agree with your partner. It simply means you understand and acknowledge his or her feelings. “I” Statements are an effective tool to validate your partner’s feelings. After one partner has gone through his or her process, switch and you share your feelings without criticisms.
Once emotions are out of the way, it’s time to solve the problem. Here is the formula to use when solving a problem. You can use this system with your partner or for an individual problem.
Step 1: Identify the problem as specifically as possible. Use behaviors or descriptive words to describe the problem (example, “I need to purchase a cost effective vehicle and sell my current vehicle.”).
Step 2: List all Brianstorm ideas (even ideas that may not be effective).
Step 3: Identify if you have the resources for the brainstorm items.
Step 4: Ask yourself which items are feasible.
Step 5: Choose the best option from your list.
Step 6: Develop a plan with objectives (steps to take to accomplish the plan).
Step 7: Carry out your plan.
That simple! Often we have difficulty putting these steps into place, because we can be impulsive or become indecisive. I encourage you to take the time to tend to the emotions that come up in the relationship, and problem-solve or fix things after the dust settles. We are NOT equipped to make good decisions when we are anxious or angry.