merchimerch: (Default)
The following is a summary of a reader's digest article on problem solving that I really liked (and I wonder why "pick the right time" is one of the hardest things to implement, maybe because things don't escalate into full out conflict unless 1 or both of us is tired/hungry/cranky):

When problem-solving becomes a tug-of-war over who's right and who's wrong, then settling even the smallest of discussions becomes a battle. A better alternative is coming up with solutions that work very well for everyone.

The benefits go far beyond the convenience of working out problems effectively; you'll develop a new way of getting along together that lets both of you feel ready and willing to talk about your concerns.

Describe the Problem in a Few Words -- and Let Your Partner Respond
The opening round in problem-solving involves getting your overview of the issue out on the table.

Look Together at Deeper Concerns
Don't try to "sell" your point of view, and don't try to solve the problem just yet. Talk about underlying worries and issues that contribute to the problem you're trying to solve.

Craft a Win-Win Strategy
Look for steps you can take to resolve the issue for both of you. The best solutions usually aren't your first ideas at all, but may occur to you after looking at your concerns and figuring out what matters most to each of you.

Decide if You've Got a Problem or Just a Difference
If an issue isn't threatening your health, safety, or financial security, and doesn't put an unfair burden on you, then it may simply be a sign that the two of you are two different people. Look for the ways that your differences are assets.

Pick the Right Time
Problem solving is least likely to work when you're tired, hungry, overloaded, stressed, distracted, or trying to do something else at the same time.

Practice Loving Acceptance
Learning the art of accepting and valuing someone for who he or she is -- instead of grousing about shortcomings -- may actually you find better solutions to problems.

Banish the Deal-Breakers
Avoid personal criticism, sneering contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Give the Benefit of the Doubt
The next time you're feeling disappointed, hurt, or angry, pause before jumping to conclusions.

Beware of Ice
A study that followed 97 newlywed couples into their third year of marriage found that spouses who give their mates the cold shoulder cause as much marital distress as those who dish out scathing sarcasm and caustic criticism. Icy behavior includes pouting, stomping out of the room, showing a lack of interest in a partner's emotional revelations, and more subtle brush-offs such as changing the subject, joking, or even buttering up a spouse to avoid discussing a difficult subject.

Be patient
Learning problem-solving skills takes time. Give both sides credit for even the smallest steps forward.

Be an Equal-Time Advocate
If you tend to dominate, speak a little less and listen longer. If you feel you're getting short shrift, gently hold your ground.


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October 2011

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