The Web address of this article is
December 16, 2014
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series of articles
Lesson-2 - learn communication basics and seven powerful
to get more daily needs met more often. Progress with this Lesson
depends on progress on Lesson 1 - free your true Self to
guide your personality in calm and conflictual
times. This article overviews the vital skill of effective
This brief video clip outlines what you'll find in this article:
This article assumes you're familiar with...
intro to this nonprofit Web site and the
premises underlying it
Pause and reflect - why are you reading this? what do you need?
How do you define "a
(social) problem," and how many "problems" are you
faced with in an average day? How effective are you at "solving" them?
From one (I am never effective at problem-solving)
consistently effective at problem solving),
how do you rate your recent
effectiveness? ___ Keep this in mind as you read. Option -
also identify and keep in mind a person you feel is a very effective
conflict or problem-solver.
how you feel about these premises...
human needsare dynamic physical, emotional, and spiritual discomforts.
between minor to intense, surface to primary, and local to long-term.
All personal and interpersonal "problems" are
Conflicts are needs that clash ("I need to talk,
and you need to sleep."), and...
All behavior - including communication - aims to fill (satisfy) each person's current
conscious and unconscious needs.
this view, "problem-solving skill"
is an intentional communication process
and between people seeking to fill their respective needs.This learnable skill can also be
called conflict resolution when
personal and/or social needs clash. This skill requires (a) knowledge of
communication basics (b) fluency in six
skills, and (c) each person to be
Effective problem solving occurs when (a) each person
gets their current primary needs met well enough (in their opinion), (b)
in a way that feels "good enough" to all people involved.
This is most likely if all people involved believe that...
primary needs (vs. mine or
yours) is the
common goal; and that...
this shared communication process
(a) is the best available
option, and (b) probably will succeed well enough for everyone involved.
Popular alternatives to effectiveproblem-solving are...
See any favorites? Do they
usually reduce your and your partner's discomforts well enough? These behaviors
are common because average people (a) have significant psychological
and don't (want to) know it, and (b) have never learned communication basics
and skills. Both factors can be intentionally reduced, once
they're understood and
Note that the communication basics and skills apply to relations
among your busy
as well as to the adults and kids in your life.
What might your life feel like if
you doubled the effectiveness of your internal communication
and problem solving?You really can learn to do this, using the ideas in
Think of a recent interpersonal problem or conflict, and how you responded to it. Compare
your normal way of problem-solving with the framework that
an overview - details follow:
See if your true Self is guiding your personality. If not, lower your
Acknowledge (vs. deny) that you have a problem (unmet needs)
Use awareness and dig-down skills to identify your and any partner's current
Decide if you have an
internal conflict, and interpersonal conflict, or both. Resolve internal
conflicts (among your subselves) first;
Use awareness skill to check your attitude and focus (past,
present, or future),
Ask your partner to problem-solve, and reduce any distractions
Confirm that (a) each person understands their own needs and each other
person's needs; and that (b) each of you has a mutual-respect attitudes
(our needs are equally important, except in an emergency)
Decide together if
your conflict is
abstract (e.g. I need security) or concrete (e.g. I need a new vehicle), and/or (c)
a current communication-needs
clash. Then set your problem-solving goals accordingly:
Option - If thus
process works weill for you, appreciate yourself ansd each other - an
possible review w3hy it worked well to reinforce your awareness.
Note: these steps may seem complex and
detailed at first. I assure you - as
with any new skill, if you patiently experiment with and practice your
version of these steps, they'll become automatic and effortless!
Step 1) Check to see if your true Self is
personality in all situations, not just problem solving. If a false self
controls you, work toward an effective strategy to
your Self to guide you. Use Lesson 1 resources to do this. Also commit to
growing proficient at these seven communication
2) Acknowledge honestly that you have a conflict
within yourself and/or (b) with your partner/s; without excessive guilt, anxiety, or
repress, deny, defer, minimize, self-distract, rationalize, and/or avoid the current
need or conflict; and/or...
acknowledge the conflict, and
give the responsibility of
resolving it to someone else (i.e. "expect a miracle", or adopt
a martyr or
Step 3) Use awareness skill to doE(motion)-level,attitude,focus,
and time checks.
E-level is "above their ears"
(so they can't hear well); and...
allpeople involved seem to feel "We're
teammates now (vs. opponents)," and ...
everyone expects win-win problem-solving to
fill your respective needs well enough,
make achieving mutual-respect attitudes your first shared problem-solving goal, and/or...
mutually agree on a
block of undistracted time in the near future to problem-solve together.
Agree (out loud, at first) to problem-solve
Note and reduce or eliminate any major emotional or physical
distractions with awareness and
Recall - these are steps to resolve personal
and interpersonal problems effectively.
Step 5) Useawareness, clear thinking, metatalk, empathic listening, and assertion
skills cooperatively to
dig down below your surface
needs to identify the
primary discomforts (needs) motivating
each of you now.
For instance, "I need the car at 3:30"
is a surfaceneed. The underlying primary need is "I need security:
i.e. assurance that I have a reliable,
convenient-enough way to (a) make my 3:30 dental appointment across town on time,
and then (b) return here no later than 5:45." If discovering your
evokes strong reactions like
shame, guilt, anxiety,
or resentment, acknowledge the feelings
honestly - vs. pretend, collapse, flee, or other.
This primary-need-discovery step
takes time and patience! Shortcutting this step in
important situations steeplyraises the odds someone
won't get their underlying needs met, and will then lose confidence and interest in this
problem-solving framework. Help each
other develop your dig-down skills!
Step 6)Use awareness, assertion, and
empathic listening, to confirm that each person (a) understands
their and their partner's primary needs clearly, and (b) values everyone's needs
equally now (shares mutual-respect attitudes).
Popular alternatives to this are...
partner (assume you know their needs);
If your conflict isabstract(e.g.
conflicting opinions or values, like "I like fish; you prefer red meat"), aim to
agree to disagree without blame or shame. Trying to persuade or convert your partner implies "My
way is better - I'm 1-up here, and youre 1-down." As a communication
style, attempting such "persuasions" (do what
I want) promotes
resentment, frustration, and avoidances.
If you disagree over something
concrete - like
both needing the car or checkbook at the same time, creatively
all possible solutions, no matter how weird. Nutty ideas can lead
unexpectedly to win/win outcomes. This step is not a contest. It
can be fun - even hilarious, if
E(motion) levels are down, and nobody feels overly 1-down,
pressured, insecure, or anxious.
If your present
needs clash, use
acknowledge this (e.g. "I need to vent, and you seem too distracted to really listen
to me now.") Then cooperatively focus all seven skills on aligning your respective
communication needs within local limitations.
problems have elements of several or all four of these conflicts going on at once! This is why
building awareness and metatalk
skills is so vitalto long-range relationship success!
Step 8)Mutually pick the best-fit from
your solution options and see if each partner is genuinelysatisfied
If not, avoid blaming anyone. Recheck your attitudes and expectations
(step 3), and consider recycling steps 3 > 7 if time and energy allow.
Option - Ifthis problem-solving
process works well-enough
for everyone, appreciate
yourselves and each other!.Option: explore why
worked well together. If your process "sort of" succeeded - or didn't, help
each other avoid self and mutual criticism. Work to agree on how to
problem-solve differently the
your steady communication-skill goal "progress, not
+ + +
How do these eight
problem-solving steps compare with your current way of responding to personal
and social conflict?How
well do you and your partner/s resolve internal, abstract, concrete, and
Consider that most people (like you?) have never been taught (a) communication basics,
problem-solving steps, or (c) the
other six communication skills.
Do you believethat
these steps would eventually get more of your and your partners' needs met? Notice your
self-talk now. Is there anything blocking your trying these
related communication skills including this problem-solving framework?
can you name any investment of energy and time (other than reducing
significant psychological wounds) that would be more valuable to you and
your family than
strengthening your shared communication skills? Are you really motivated to do so
now? Is your partner? What if you aren't?
communication basics, all seven
skills, and more in the
practical guidebook Satisfactions - 7 relationship skill you need to know
(Xlibris.com, 2nd ed., 2010). It integrates all the key Lesson-2
Web articles and resources into a convenient reference book.
This article offers perspective on human "problems" (unfilled needs).
It describes common ineffective ways people try to resolve their social
problems, and outlines 8 steps toward effective interpersonal
problem-solving. These steps require (a) your true Self to guide you, (b)
knowledge of communication basics, and (c) fluency in the other six
communication skills described in Lesson 2.
Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this problem-solving summary?
Did you get what you needed? If not, what
you need? Who's answering these questions - your wise, resident
(capital "S") or
Next - learn
about your current problem-solving style with this
inventory, and then experiment with this
problem-solving practice with a partner.
process with a key partner(mate, child,
parent, friend, co-worker...). Do this to explore
and helpeach other, not to shame, blame, or triumph.
Overall, continue patiently studying and applying Lessons 1 and 2,
and expect your satisfaction, security, and serenity to rise!.