Beware of Problem-Solving Mind Traps

Problems are common aspects of life and everyone encounters different kinds of problems almost every day.

A situation becomes a problem if we cannot immediately reach the goal that we aim to achieve. To find the right solutions to specific problems, we need to use an effective problem-solving method that’s designed to help us overcome the obstacles towards our goals.

Some obstacles to effective problem-solving happen because of the way we think.

Sometimes, the process being followed to address a problem has certain flaws. However, there are times when some obstacles to effective problem-solving happen just because of the way we thinkMental baggage is part of human nature, and we have to overcome our own mental baggage to find the real and effective solutions to our problems.

A lot of problem solvers have struggled to break through barriers that constrained their thinking. These mental barriers are known as mind traps. Mind traps are internal as they reside in the mind of the problem solver.

The 5 Common Types of Mind Traps

Mind traps prevent you from understanding what the real problem is, pinpointing its causes, and thinking outside the box to come up with helpful solutions.

The following are the 5 most common types of mind traps you should avoid:

1. Being Influenced by Your or Other People’s Initial Ideas

“First impressions last”, so they say. The same could be said of first thoughts when you consider a solution for a problem. The starting point of your thinking usually influences the way you think about the problem.

The initial ideas mind trap can affect how you analyze the problem and how you choose the best solution. The roots of the problem are often deep, thus it is important to avoid this mind trap. The problem needs to be analyzed properly without prejudice so you can choose the best and most effective solution.

2. Defending Prior Choices

Sometimes, halfway through implementing your solution, you will discover that your first option is not as effective as you thought. But it can be tempting to make a decision that protects your previous choice, especially if you have already invested financially on that choice.

You have to be aware, however, that the sooner you change the decision that you know will not work effectively, the less costly it will become. You can actually save a lot of time, effort, and money if you know how to identify and avoid this mind trap.

3. Selecting Supporting Information Based on Initial Bias

The trap of selecting supporting information based on an initial bias happens when you have mentally decided on an option even before you begin investigating. This can lead to ineffective analysis of the problem, because you become selective with the collection of significant information.

Your interpretation of your solution may also be distorted because you may tend to choose an alternative that you originally favored rather than seriously consider other better options. You are likely to be more lenient in judging the success of your favored solution, eager to seek evidence that it’s working, and may disregard evidence that proves otherwise.

4. Making Assumptions

Assumptions can simplify your view of the problem, which may cause you to overlook evidence and other potential solutions. No matter how an assumption appears reasonable or based on common sense, it is still a belief that has not been verified. This can lead problem-solvers to overlook or even ignore the facts related to the problem.

5. Conformity to Majority

It is human nature that the actions of others influence the decision of a person, and this leads to the conformity mind trap. Conformity can lead problem solvers to accept the consensus of the majority rather than being critical in assessing a problem and its possible solutions.

When working with a group, it is highly possible that everyone else’s support for a particular solution may convince  or pressure you to support it too. This may lead to making a decision based on democracy instead of careful, critical, and objective thinking.

The mind traps that usually compromise the effectiveness of problem-solving are consequences of the way people naturally think and behave.

Stay vigilant of these mind traps.

When solving a problem, it is not only important to follow the right problem-solving method — it is also important to be aware and vigilant of the possible mind traps.

The mind traps that usually compromise the effectiveness of problem-solving are consequences of the way people naturally think and behave. But when you are aware of them, you can overcome such barriers and can become more successful in finding the best solutions to your problems.

Source: Skillsoft Ireland Limited

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