Who Owns the Problem?
Understanding who owns the problem is key in choosing how we address issues, concerns and conflicts arising.
There are four basic areas of problem ownership:
- Other Owns a Problem
- No Problem Area
- I Own a Problem
- We Own a Problem
When the Other Person “Owns” a Problem, then we can provide our skills in listening, unpacking the feelings and needs that are trying to be met, and feed them back to the person i.e. Is it that you are confused (Feeling) about your mums response? (Fact). Or Is it that you value consideration when it comes to making social arrangements?
The No Problem Area is literal as in our needs are met and everyone is AOK.
In the I Own a Problem Area, our own needs are not being met; we may feel stressed, overwhelmed or upset. This is where we empathetic listen ourselves to clearly define our needs and feelings and communicate them as a way of getting them met or resolve a problem. How we do that is ask ourselves: How do I feel about the situation? What need is trying to be met? Be careful you are not getting solutions and needs mixed up too. There is never a conflict of needs, only solutions.
When We Own a Problem, there’s a conflict in your relationship with each other i.e. We have a problem in that both peoples needs are not getting met. Here we highlight the needs of each, brainstorm solutions, collaboratively decide on a solution that works for both and then implement it, checking in at a later time frame to see if it worked.
Our goal is to come back to the no-problem area as much as possible through using our communication skills. Firstly we have to know how an issue is for us before we can communicate it. take time to sit down and empathetically listen to yourself, discover your needs and then formulate a way to communicate this.
Here’s an example: Lisa is concerned that every Xmas they spend it with her partners family. She wants to ensure she spends more time with her ageing mum. She is concerned that she may not have many more festive seasons together before her mum passes. Her feelings are concern, sadness, eager and excitement at the idea of spending time with her. Needs are; connection, fairness and consideration.
Lisa brings this into an I message and communicates her concerns with her partner: “I am really eager (feeling) to spend time with mum this year at Christmas as I have a real concern that we don’t have many left to share as she ages. I really value the time (need) we have left with her. Would you be willing to consider spending Christmas with my mum this year?
In this instance it opens up the conversation to brain storm solutions that work for both, maintain each others self esteem and confidence and ensure both parties get their needs met.
The Awakening Group offers comprehensive online communication training for more details click here