There is Always a Solution. We Just Need to Find it

Published: 01st August 2014 09:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st August 2014 09:57 AM   |  A+A-


Indira Aiyer.jpgA father left 17 camels as an inheritance for his three sons. The will stated that the eldest son should get half the camels, the middle son should be given one-third and the youngest son one-ninth. As it is not possible to divide 17 into half, by 3 or by 9 the three sons began to fight with one another. Finally they decided to go to a wise man. The wise man listened patiently and after some thought, brought a camel of his own and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

Now he started reading the deceased father’s will. Half of 18 is nine so he gave the eldest son nine camels, 1/3rd of 18 is six so he gave the middle son six camels, 1/9th of 18 is two so he gave the youngest son two camels. Added up, nine plus six plus two is seventeen and this left one camel, which the wise man took away as it was his to begin with.

The right attitude to negotiation and problem-solving is to find the 18th camel, i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find this, the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times, but to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution.

Problems are a part of life whether in our private lives or at the workplace or in our social realm. If we approach them with a positive mind and an attitude that reflects our resolve to find a solution we can find the 18th camel!

There are steps we can follow to solve a problem logically and rationally.

1. Identify the problem. At times we do not focus on the real issue and blame incidentals... we need to get to the real problem.

2. Analyse the causes of the problem. The factors that led to the problem could lie in the situation, in ourselves, in our opponents or in wrong practices.

3. Generate potential solutions. We can brainstorm to find all possible solutions to our problem, and write them down. No solution is rejected until it has been analysed.

4. Select, and implement, the solution. Decide which solution will be the common ground, and how best these solutions can be practically put to use.

6. Evaluate the solution. Have we found the correct solution, or do we need to re-evaluate the causes and generate more answers?

Let’s take an example from academic life. We feel that in spite of our best efforts a certain teacher does not give us the grades we deserve.

Follow the steps above.

1. What is the problem?

 Are we the problem, not answering the way we are supposed to?

 Is our attitude the problem, very impolite?

 Is the teacher’s bias the problem – that she doesn’t like us?

2. Why has this problem arisen?

 Is it due to a misunderstanding?

 Is it because we do not like the subject?

3. What are the possible solutions?

 Change the way we behave in class.

 Change the way we answer questions in assignments.

 Meet the teacher and politely ask how the grades can improve.

 If none of the above works, ask for a change of section. If possible though, that should be the very last resort.

4. Put the first solution into practice. Wait, watch and study the effects. If it works stay with that choice, if not choose option two.

If we follow a systematic method of searching for solutions we will find them.

What are the major hindrances to problem solving?

 Persistence of an old mindset. We stick to old and tried strategies, even if they are less efficient.

 We have a negative mindset or a tendency to solve problems in one particular way, even when a different approach might be more productive.

 We fail to perceive that the situation has changed. Examples:  Modes of cooking or travelling, methods of studying, resistance to computers.

 Functional fixedness or a tendency to use objects only in their customary way.

In order to be successful at solving problems we need to be able to view things in new ways or from different viewpoints. We need to be able to generate new possibilities, new alternatives, many alternatives and unique alternatives. We need to remodel our fundamental way of thinking to include flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and appreciation of difference.

Ask yourself what uses a pencil can be put to? Do you know some creative people came up with more than a hundred ways to use a pencil!


Readers, if you have questions related to your life or life skills send a mail to Indira Aiyer and she will certainly have a response for you.


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