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Communicators that Solve Problems: It’s all about solutions and results

Problems Solvers attach credibility to tangible-real world information that they can analyze and sort to move their way toward results. They see problems quickly and are ready to sift through the details and advise on what needs to be done. For them, words are meant to communicate substance and action. Flowery language doesn’t come easy to them and small talk can be frustrating if it drags on too long. Affirmation is not sought after nor is it offered generously. However, competence in self and others is highly valued and acknowledged when it gets results. 

The language they speak is one of solutions and results. When laying out plans, they do it sequentially while moving effortlessly from one step to the next in an orderly fashion. When they ask questions it is to sort through the details of relevant proposals and analyze them for the best potential outcome. They always have the end result in mind as they talk through options.

Problem Solvers are one of four communication styles that show up when we are trying to work together. In this series of blogs we are focusing one blog post on each style: Problem Solvers, Bridge Builders, Strategic Thinkers and Compassionate Connectors. Let’s explore a few ways communication plays out for a Problem Solver when they are on a team! 

Problems Solvers on Your Team

Meetings

The best meetings are emails. Okay, seriously! Keep the meeting brief and to the point. Every meeting needs a purpose and should end with a decision and action step. Problem Solvers will engage in the dreaming or brainstorming conversation for a short time, with the expectation that the problem will be identified as soon as possible and an action step decided. To work well with a Problem Solver: Set up front expectations for the meeting. Set a timer if needed to clarify perimeters for what will happen in the meeting. Stick to the agenda. End on time.

Problem Solving

Everything is a problem to be solved. It’s how they view the world. So, if you need someone to identify the root of a problem, they will dig deeply into the data. Ambiguous problems are frustrating if they can’t find a way to move through the data towards an action plan. They can critique any plan to deduce what is missing that might derail the plan AND they can offer contingency plans when things go wrong. Don’t take it personally >> they see everything as inefficiencies to be improved. 

Setting Expectations

They are all about efficiency. If you want something done in a certain (maybe less efficient) way, you will need to articulate logical and specific reasons why “going the long way” is necessary. Don’t micromanage >> they want to be trusted. Acknowledge that  they can see it through and get it done. Partner with them in seeing the people side of the process which they might overlook in their focus on results.

Tips for Your Problem Solvers

Tips to connect with a Problem Solver:

  • Think it through so you can give them the “bullet point” version
  • Speak to the pros and cons of any proposal
  • Be prepared, give details, provide specific examples
  • Detach from emotions and stick to the facts at hand 
  • Focus on the next action step or decision to be made
  • Recognize their contributions (how their actions got results)

Tips to moderate your style if you are a Problem Solver:

  • Listen without dismissing others’ ideas
  • Give people space to ramble before they get to the point 
  • When giving feedback, check in on feelings
  • Point out factual mistakes only if necessary
  • Prioritize what efficiencies REALLY matter and let the others go
  • Have 2 – 3 people you trust give you clear, honest feedback

What’s Next?

Spend time this week familiarizing yourself with the Problem Solver communication style. What did you learn?  Who do you know that appears to have this communication style? What 1-2 specific things will you try that will help you partner well with people who have this style?

Enjoy the journey! If you haven’t downloaded my Communication Style Assessment, get it right HERE and and future blogs will be delivered right to your email.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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