Solving problems

This video introduces a comprehensive model for resolving conflicts and problems within families, highlighting a nine-step approach. It covers essential steps such as maintaining a positive attitude, making statements of goodwill, choosing the right time and place, defining issues clearly, brainstorming solutions, and making agreements. The video emphasises the importance of communication, mutual respect, and the practical implementation of problem-solving strategies to foster family wellbeing. Viewers are encouraged to adopt these techniques to effectively address and resolve conflicts in their relationships.

A woman speaks:

You'll be working hard to develop tools to support family wellbeing. One further tool we'd like to share with you is a model for resolving problems or conflicts that you may have with others. Have you ever had the feeling that the more you talk about something, the more stuck you become? Education about being a responsible problem-solver may have been lacking in your upbringing, and if so, you'll usually resort to those patterns that are most familiar. Those from your family of origin. These may not have been the most healthy or useful, which means you're likely to get more stuck instead of resolving the situation.

The following problem-solving model works equally well within families and in the outside world. It's really just basic common sense.

Step 1: Have a positive attitude. It's important to embark on problem solving with a positive attitude about the value of the exercise. If you come into it expecting to win at all costs, not prepared to compromise or listen to the other person's opinion, it's not even worth beginning the process. Carry out an attitude check for yourself. Some good questions to ask yourself are: Am I prepared to listen without interrupting? Will I be able to handle hearing issues that may be difficult to hear without getting into self-righteous anger and abuse? Do I want both of us to win and come out of this situation respecting each other, or do I want to be the winner even if it's at the other person's expense?

Step 2: Make a statement of goodwill. Where there have been difficulties in resolving problems in the past it's easy to bring the memories of these circumstances to the current situation. Escalating the situation and getting away from the issue by dragging up past issues, blaming, and not listening might be a common pattern. A statement of goodwill works as an aid to putting us in a positive frame of mind to meet the others in a pursuit of mutual respect. Examples of these statements are: I care about myself, and I care about you. I want this to work out for both of us. I know we've not been able to resolve issues in the past, and I do feel worried that my old patterns may emerge again, but I'm committed to working respectfully with you this time.

Step 3: Choose a time and a place. Important issues need to be addressed with the significance they deserve. It's impossible to give the necessary weight to issues if the time and place creates interference. For example: avoid distractions such as the television, radio or stereo, children, visitors, mobile phones, and so on. It also means not being in a drug-induced state, alcohol included. Avoid busy times such as before or during meals or where there's insufficient time to complete the discussion. We suggest you choose a time and place where you will not be interrupted and where you can feel safe and comfortable. Set a time limit on the discussion, depending upon the issue involved.

Step 4: Define what the issue is. Many couples think about the complexities lying behind an issue, it also invites a clarity of expression, which is often missing when there are emotionally en-charged issues to resolve. Keep the statement of the issue brief and keep it to one issue. One of the major problems in resolving conflict is that people try and deal with 20 problems at the same time. Let me tell you, this does not work! Make a statement such as: I have concerns about... State what you're feeling. When you... I feel... Make a statement about what you would like to be different, such as... I would like... Notice that all three of these statements avoid the traps of blaming, getting off-topic, and dishonest communication. Allow equal time without interruption to talk about what you want to be different. Some people use a watch to time the encounter. Stay on topic.

Step 5: Find solutions. This is the fun part of the exercise; it involves writing down all of the possible options that exist for resolving the issue. They should be as creative as possible and not restricted to what's been done before. We encourage people to sit down with a large piece of paper and write for as long as possible. This is not a time to figure out whether these options will work or not, just an opportunity to write down what all the options are.

Step 6: Choose the best option or options. Go through the list deleting the options that are not feasible. Select the best remaining two or three, and talk about these in more depth.

Step 7: Make an agreement. Be very clear about what each of you is committing yourself to. It's best to make a written note of these. Include the date, when it will happen, where, how long, and what reward will be at the end of it successfully resolving itself. Put a review date on it, so you can come back to it in a month or two and evaluate how successful you were.

Step 8: Put the plan into practice. This is where you give it the best chance of success.

Step 9: Review. How did it work? What's different? What changes have you and others noticed? Was it fully successful? Partially... or not successful? Do you deserve to celebrate your success? If the issue hasn't been resolved then go back to the start and work through the process again.

Your challenge is to start practising ways to resolve problems using the format I've just described.