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Four Step Process For Thinking Through Problems

“If you have a job without aggravation, you don’t have a job.”  Malcolm Forbes

I love that quote.  It speaks to the fact that life and our jobs are not meant to be easy.  They are meant to challenge us to bring all we have to the table.  I think we often forget to stop and be grateful for what we do have and how the challenges we face end up shaping who we are and what we do.  Those are things to be grateful for.

I reflect back now on some of the toughest times in my life and I realize how much what I did and how I thought through those times now shapes the persistence, endurance and tenacity I have today.  I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to live through them again but honestly wouldn’t erase them if I could.

As leaders and sales professionals you often want the smooth path- where no one bothers you with their problems- but the reality is that is exactly why you are there.  Customers want sales people to solve their problems. Employees want leaders to make their life easier.  As Collin Powel said, “If people aren’t bringing you their problems, you are no longer leading.”

So don’t wish for the problems to disappear but instead look for how you can improve how you deal with them.  I have found that the longer we “dwell” on something the more we give weight to opinions, assumptions and the farther we move away from the facts.

So do this with your next problem in order to bring more clarity:

1. Write down the facts as you know them- no opinions or assumptions. It is tougher than you think.  Matter-of-fact, when we do this with leaders they find that 70% of the information they are acting on is really opinion or assumption, not fact!

2. Look at the facts and think about what the best outcome would be.  If you need to, at this point you can look at some assumptions ONLY IF they are positive.  Why? Because it will keep your brain on a proactive role versus a defensive mode.

3. Now quickly write out a course of action and then set it aside.  Let it just sit in your brain.

4. Review it later on (even the next day if it is a bigger or more delicate problem) and see if it still feels right.  If it doesn’t the best answer usually pops in to your head overnight.

This quick little four step process will help you keep problems from dwelling and growing roots in your brain and instead, will give greater clarity and insight.


As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit  www.impressionmanagement.com,  or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .