When Both of Us Own a Problem: The Six Steps of the No-Lose Method

Author:  Kathleen Kelly Denslow

Many of you already know a problem solving method and if you took P.E.T., you learned this one. So here’s either new information for you or a good, basic reminder for the next time you find yourself in a conflict with your kids, your spouse/partner—or anyone!

Set the Stage.  Before using the No-Lose Method, the people involved need to understand the method and agree to use it to solve the conflict or quarrel. parenting problem solving

Step 1 – Define the Problem.  This is the most important step.  Each person tells the other one what their problem is in a way that doesn’t blame or judge the other person.  I-Messages are the best way to do this.

Let the other person tell you his/her problem first and be sure to Active Listen to make sure you understand their real needs.

Then you tell the other person what your real need is so that they understand you, too.

Agree on the actual problem to be solved.  It might be different that what you thought it was at the beginning.

Step 2 – Brainstorm Solutions.  Both of you think of as many ideas and possible solutions as you can.  Just list them all now and don’t evaluate them yet.  Agree to do that.  It’s not easy.

Step 3 – Evaluate Solutions.  Now both people think about which solutions might work and which won’t.  Cross off solutions that won’t work for one or both of you.  Test out the possible solutions by asking:  “Any reason it might not work?”

Step 4 – Choose a Solution.  Both of you agree on a solution or a combination of solutions. One of you needs to state the solution to make sure you both agree.  Don’t try to push a solution on the other person and don’t accept one you really don’t want—both of you need to freely choose.

Step 5 – Plan for and Take Action.  You both decide Who does What by When to carry out the agreed-on solution.  It’s best to trust that both will do what they agreed instead of talking about what will happen if they don’t

Step 6 – Check Results.  You both need to agree to check back at a later time to make sure the solution worked/is working for both of you.

Learn more about P.E.T