How to Help Others Solve 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 a huge mountain of stress for another. In fact the problem can feel just too big and that there is no way of solving it.

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

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

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

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

What I love about this process 
  1. This is a formulated process. It is 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 making will be far more motivating than a solution made for them by others.


Lets go through the process step by step.


Problem Solving Sheet
Problem Solving Sheet by Dr. Ian Faloon

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 any one else that you consider would be helpful in solving 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 its 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 what the problem is 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 10 solutions, be creative. If creativity and fun is encouraged then often new solutions may appear that no one would have thought of. The brain needs to be given 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 peoples 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 the present time. 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. Organise 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 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 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.

So here is the link to your free Problem Solving Sheet.

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    Click to tweet

We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.  Albert Einstein

If you choose to not 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 problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right – one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in. Atul Gawande

A problem well put is half solved.  John Dewey            Click to tweet

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     Click to tweet


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Barry Pearman

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