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4 Steps to Problem Solving When You're Caught off Guard

We've all experienced it. The dreaded phone call that catches us completely off guard. Something has gone wrong and someone is calling you to complain and/or do something about it! When something doesn't go to plan, goes sideways, or just crashes, we often don't know about it until someone tells us - in that anxious phone call or a terse text, filled with unsmiling emojis! When you can't resolve the problem immediately, here's an approach that can get your started on the right path, until you can find out more facts, consult with the right players, and hopefully get to a resolution. It's been around for a while, but having these steps imprinted firmly in your memory can help you stay grounded and shed a new light on the situation.



It's the LIMS Method:



L is for Listen: Here is where you say things like, "I understand." "I hear you." "That makes sense." or "You're not alone." These simple statements help the caller feel heard - and that starts the process of getting out of the spiral of the problem, and into solving it together.


I is for Isolate: Ask questions like, "Do you have any other concerns?' "Is this your biggest concern?"

It's important to get an accurate assessment of the problem and ascertain if there are any other issues that need to be resolved.


M is for Mirror: Yes, this is a favorite tool of counselors, but is the tool of any good communicator. Mirroring their statement can cause the person to hear their own voice. Often, if they are extremely heated, or use absolute terms, hearing that acknowledgement from you either confirms their level of emotion, or gives them the opportunity to view their statement from a different perspective.


S is for Solve: This is the close for the conversation and may lead to further work on the issue, or may start the be the start of the solution itself. Give it a chance! This is the time that you ask the person to work with you to generate options. When you generate options, use your skills to close for a yes or no answer to each option. You're getting closer to the work you have to do next, or, often, you reach a resolution right away.


I hope you find value in this simple but skilled tactic to start the problem solving process!

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