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Transform problems into solutions

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in Workplace Communication

What’s the best way to solve a problem at work? Figure out exactly what’s wrong and fix it. Right?

Not according to Marcus Buckingham. The author of Find Your Strongest Life says that’s an example of “Deficit Attention Disorder.” He says thinking in terms of the problem only amplifies negative feelings.

He recommends this more positive, productive approach:

1. Define the problem objectively. “Leave out any judgments,” Buckingham says. “Simply state the facts as if a video camera were replaying the issue to you.”

2. Detach yourself from the problem. He says, “Because attention amplifies everything, focusing on the source of the problem will inevitably make it worse. You are not fixing it; the problem simply shows you something.”

3. Ask, “What does it look like when it’s working?” instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” Change follows your line of questioning.

4. Define three steps that you can take to shift the situation toward the imagined future that your question helped you create.

5. Look for evidence that your steps will produce the intended result. Keep asking “What’s working?”

Problems don’t magically disappear, but they do transform when you focus attention on a positive vision.

— Adapted from “Strong Life Plan: Problem-Solving,” Marcus Buckingham,

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