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Problem Solving from Expanded Perspectives
Frankly Speaking by Frank Jordan
Problems confront everyone from youth through adulthood. Basically, you ask yourself, “How does this problem affect me and how can I make it go away?” This is normal and appropriate for helping to determine how you feel and think. But if you stop there, you will almost certainly decide on a response from only your personal perspective; often skewed by emotion and even self pity, with limited objective evaluation of your own input into creating the problem.
Have you ever thought, “Why is this happening to me after all I’ve done for them?” Or, “I didn’t do anything to deserve this.” Even, “I’m so flustered and confused, I don’t know what to think or do – How do I make them understand?” Or maybe just, "Lord I don't know what to do - Help!" No matter the challenge, you need to broaden your consideration of how your problem arose before coming to a conclusion of how to resolve the issue at hand. If you are only blaming others it is time to stop and start resolving. How?
You’ve looked at your problem from your point of view; now find a quiet place and calmly assess the problem by “walking in the other person’s shoes.” Try to look through the other person’s eyes at the issue you are trying to resolve to gain an appreciation for how others involved are feeling and affected by both the issue and any decision you make regarding a possible solution.
This is a particularly important perspective if negotiations are involved that require compromise and a building of rapport between everyone involved. Truly thinking through the other person’s point of view can illuminate valid points often overlooked or too hastily dismissed; even to admitting you may have made a few mistakes yourself! Expanding your perspective always leads to a better solution.
Next make yourself an independent observer as if you are a news person reporting on an event which just happens to be your problem. This mental ploy makes you disassociate yourself from the immediacy and emotional drama of your issue. You become an objective observer of your involvement and reaction to your problem; similar to being a witness to a car wreck, rather than the driver.
Witnesses frequently see different aspects of an event in testifying. As an uninvolved witness to how your problem came to its present condition, you can often without emotion see how your situation was created and thus better analyze feasible and reasonable resolution alternatives.
Now bring into your analysis how your response will impact not only yourself; but your family, friends, neighbors, associates, your neighborhood, your church, your business, the community and other aspects of your social system. Consider not just the immediate, but also the long-run impact of your decisions.
The final step is often the most difficult. If you are a Christian, have a personal conversation with Jesus discussing your problem from all of the first four perspectives. If not a Christian, visualize yourself with someone you admire for character, high morals and judgment.
Close your eyes and contemplate how Jesus, or the persona you admire, would respond to the pros and cons of your situation and alternatives. Let tie votes go to Jesus if your proposed solutions differ from His.
If you do this, you will always have made the proper decision because in your heart you instinctively know His way is the right way. We don’t always do the right thing, but we know the right way because we are created in His image.
Problems come in all sizes and complexities, which makes coming to equitable solutions with positive outcomes a difficult task. Frankly speaking, try using the thought process presented for problem solving from expanded perspectives; then personally judge whether you are better able to focus and develop solutions from a more thoughtful, objective, considerate and spiritual point of view.
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