Building solutions

Solution focused work

Solution Building

future and goals, ideas and solutions, exceptions, opportunities, strengths, testing

Exercise 1. Repeat aloud after the voice-over the key phrases and expressions that directly relate to the most important aspects of building solutions. By saying individual sentences out loud, the learning process is many times more effective than if you were only reading or thinking what you could or should say. By repeating individual words, you considerably increase the likelihood of their use in real-life situations. The exercise is like learning a new language; its logic and mindset will change your conversations with others; it will help you avoid conflicts and implement important objectives and tasks together.


Questions that enable to formulate objectives and describe the future

 „What would be important for you in the near future?”, „What would be important for you in a long-term perspective??”, „What would you like to achieve?”, „What is the expected result of your action?”, „What do you care about?”, „When will you determine that you have reached what you wanted?”, „What change do you expect?”, „What would you like to do in the future?”, „What is your objective?”, „What is your task?”, „How do you see yourself in a few years?”

„Questions about the miracle”, that specifically direct our attention on the future and release our focus from problems and the past

„What would be possible if the problem we are talking about was resolved?”, „What could you do if this problem ceased to exist?”, „What would happen in your department or company if you dealt with this problem?”

Pay attention to these words and expressions: „What is the problem?”, „What exactly happened?”, „Why did you do what you did?”, „What was the cause of your behaviour?”, „What is the reason for what happened?”, „Why did this problem appear?”, „Did you do what you did because.. ?” – these and similar expressions focus the attention of the person you are talking to on the past and problems, often activating defensive attitudes and behaviours:”It was not me; it was others or objectively adverse circumstances”.


Building the sense of effectiveness and sense of value

„What you did shows that you are capable of…, that you can…” (after these words, describe the competencies and commitment of the person you are talking to)”, „Recall a situation when, (describe the situation) – what you did then shows that you are capable of (describe capabilities of the person you are talking to), that you are able to…, that you can (describe competencies and commitment of the person you are talking to)”, „I remember very well the situations in which your knowledge, your competencies, your commitment resulted in the achievement of (describe achieved results)”, „Your skill  (describe the skill) allows you to (describe the result) – it is probably very important for (determine the person(s) for whom this is important), it is very important for me”.

Pay attention to the following words and phrases that make it difficult to build solutions and focus attention on gaps, deficiencies and weaknesses: „You cannot”, „You are unable to…”, „You are incapable of…”, „You are inadequate to…”, „You miss…”, „You do not have…”, „You are…”, „You are not…”. Also pay attention to phrases that make the assessment of an action or person dependent on subjective or vague assessment criteria: „I really like it”, „I like/I do not like”, „Great/Super/Excellent/Beautiful/Perfect/Cool”


Questions about solutions

 „What will you do in this situation?”, „What will you suggest in this situation?”, „What do you intend to do in this situation?”, „What solutions do you suggest?”,  „What can you do to achieve the objective that we are talking about?, „What do you want to do in order to achieve this?”

Be particularly attentive to the expressions: „You should”, „We should”, „You must”, „If I were you, I would…”, „Make it like so…” – these expressions most often limit abilities and motivations to generate ideas; they sound like good advice, instructions, speculations or forcing.


Questions about an exception

„Can you remember a situation when it was better, when the problem did not exist?”, „When was your cooperation with (here, determine the person(s)) unproblematic?”,  „When did it work?”, „Recall situations in which the problem did not exist or its intensity was smaller. What was different? What did you do then? What did others do?”,  „The bad is never the same all the time; when was it easier/faster/better?”.

It often happens that, in the face of problems, you focus your attention on what is not working and you are looking for the causes of the situation: the question about an exception enables to analyse the past from the perspective of strengths and opportunities. Avoid the words: „never”, „always”, „everything”, „everybody”.


Testing solutions

„If you do what you are suggesting, how will others react? What will they do?”, „How will your action enable to achieve the objective we are discussing?”, „If what you are suggesting does not lead to the objective, what will you do in this situation?”, „Let us assume we are accepting your solution; how will other people involved in this action react? What will they do? How will they feel? What will you do then?”, "Does it lead to the objective we are discussing?”, „What happens if you are going to do what you said you would?”.

Pay attention to judgements containing the word „no” and „but” and expressions including „no” and „but”: „unfortunately”, „impossible”, „this is not a good idea”, „we cannot do that this way…”, „it does not lead to the objective…”, „it does not take into account…”, „yes, but”, „possible, but”. A large number of „no” and „but’s” most often leads to long discussions, arguments and conflicts.


Setting limits

„For me, it is important that…”, „What is important for me is…”, „In this situation, I cannot agree to…”, „I cannot accept a situation in which… (here, describe the consequences of a prudent action) What do you suggest in this regard?”, „Like I said, for me, it is important that (say what is important for you)”, „I would like you to take into account what is important for me…”, „In this situation, I care the most about…”.

Pay attention not to excessively use the plural form: „we cannot..”, „we will not…”, „we will not allow…”, „we should”, „we should not”, („we, the king”).


Small steps

 „Tell me how can you start this action? Choose something simple to be sure that you will surely do what we are going to agree”, „What could you do over the next few days?”, „Exactly specify what you will or intend to do about his tomorrow”, „What is the next action associated with what you are suggesting?”.

Avoid general, unspecific and complex plans – mostly, they are never accomplished.

Exercise 2. Select a person with whom you need to talk about a difficult and serious problem that has recently appeared in your cooperation. Hold a meeting according to the following pattern:

  1. Determine the objectives that you will accomplish together in the future: first in the near and then in the distant future; talk about this; see how the person you are talking to sees the future.
  2. Describe and highlight what your collaborator can and is capable of. Determine available resources and opportunities that you both have.
  3. Ask for a solution, i.e. what your collaborator(s) will do to achieve the objectives you have both discussed. Speak of what you want to do.
  4. Test the solution formulated by the person you are talking to and set limits, indicating what is important for you and what you care about. Accept those that will enable to achieve the set objectives.
  5. Plan “small steps” related to this solution (phone calls, emails, meetings, shopping, etc.)

Repeat such conversations until achieving full smoothness in using the words, expressions and phrases that build solutions. Avoid those that lead to quarrels and conflicts.

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