Interpersonal Problem-Solving

The 7 Key Steps of Effective Interpersonal Problem-Solving

Any interpersonal relationship involving two or more distinct people is susceptible to having misunderstandings, in which one does not agree, and the other has divergent opinions and views. These misunderstandings can lead to conflicts that, if properly solved, can generate significant progress in the relationship, strengthening it.

If you are wondering what are the 7 Key Steps of Effective Interpersonal Problem-Solving, then please find the list below:

  1. Don’t be afraid to admit the problem exists.
  2. Remain positive
  3. Find the ROOT of the problem.
  4. Choose the RIGHT MOMENT
  5. Make Good-Points
  6. Be communicative
  7. Know how to listen

Before we go to each step, let’s talk about how interpersonal problems can come up. Conflict is a natural exchange of energies, however often seen as unfavorable because most people can’t manage stress, can’t be honest with themselves and others, and go with the mindset of being right.

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What are the Major causes of Interpersonal Conflicts?

Opinions When there is controversy in the point of view (usually, when one wants to be right without listening to the other).Ex: People only appreciate when they lose.
Actions/ Behavior When a mismatch arises in the way, we act.Ex: I usually introduce my new friends to my family after 3 months of meeting them
Achievements/ GoalsWhen there is a divergence of desired results.Ex: A couple dating one wants to get married, and the other is still feeling the vibe.
Mindset / ValuesIt arises when there is an incompatibility concerning what we consider crucial.Ex: In France, where I come from, we don’t work more than 6 hours a day.
Feelings / EmotionsIt happens when we let our emotions guide our decisions by forgetting logic.Ex: We had a frustrating day at work and didn’t process it well; we come home and shout with our daughter for not bringing our slippers.

That being so, and knowing that we cannot avoid conflicts, it is essential to understand them to resolve them in the best way. Then there will be clues as to how best to resolve disputes.

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts?

  1. Don’t be afraid to admit the problem exists.

Denial does nothing to improve the situation, quite the contrary because it allows the issue to increase over time. There is no point in delaying their afflictions, as they will continue where they are and as a snowball until they reach an insoluble plateau. Admitting you have a problem allows you to think about a solution.

Where should we start now that we are not afraid to admit there is a problem?

  • Identify the problem (try to understand what bothers us, how does it make you feel?);
  •  Prepare the essential points you want to expose to each other;
  • What can you do to change the situation?
  • Brainstorm ideas on how you could talk and solve this situation.
  1. Remain Positive

We must not regard misunderstanding as persecution or an attempt to strike at us. By being positive, we assumed that the other person had good intentions and that a supposed lack of communication between us created a problem.

Moreover, by seeking to act positively in solving the problem, it is clear that we are not seeking intrigue, only the most sensible solution.

Thoughts motivate our actions, so it is of paramount importance that we always have good views.

Positive thinking gives us a vision of hope that things can improve and that nothing is eternal, not problems and difficulties. In addition to the personal benefits that this positive-thinking brings, you end up influencing the people around you with such thoughts.

  1. Find the ROOT of the Problem

Some of the main concerns we have stem from internalized issues, and unresolved feelings. Thus, it becomes essential to avoid hiding your feelings from others and ourselves.

By not admitting that we care about a particular question, we can go into denial and accumulate the problem, so we stop looking for a suitable solution.

It is all right that we feel shaken, sad, and a little bewildered to some degree with situations that seem to evade its possibilities of resolution. What can’t happen is that we let those feelings get in the way of the day-to-day interactions with the people around us.

  1. Choose the RIGHT MOMENT

It is often not advisable to resolve a conflict immediately when it occurs, but rather to allow a short interval so that the strong emotions that appear at the time of its occurrence do not make you say things you will regret. 

Besides, this break also gives you time for preparation (thinking well about what you want and how you want to say things). It is also essential to choose a time when there is time to speak calmly.


  • Don’t try to talk about it right away; go home, relax and then reflect on it;
  • It is not a good idea to try problem-solving with other people around us, and the person may feel attacked or exposed.
  1. Make Good-Points

Yelling was never an excellent option to solve anything; take your pride out of the spotlight. We need to stay focused on what’s best for everyone and not our ego. Know precisely where we’re going with that discussion. Have clear, convincing arguments and look for the best way to use them.


  • We need to have listed everything that affected us and how;
  • We conduct the conversation to bring understanding, for that we should critique constructively;
  • To critique constructively, we should compliment his or their qualities and then explain how it affected us;
  • After that, we should propose help by having a suggestion of how the change would look like.
  1. Be Communicative 

The lack of clear information about specific processes or each one’s function within the organization leads to misinterpreted information. In this sense, clear, concise, and timely communication reduces the number and severity of conflicts.


  • It uses first-person phrases “I feel like…” “I think…”, “It made me understand “;
  • Keep to the critical/essential things (stick to the key points)
  • Explain what this conflict means to you;
  • Don’t blame or worry about reacting to each other;
Interpersonal Problem-Solving
  1. Know how to Listen 

Knowing how to listen to means being attentive to what is being said, understanding how the person behaves when positioning their arguments, and understanding their reasons. If we are always trying to answer to justify our actions, there is no possible understanding.

To listen, we need to consider first dialogue or a conversation that involves two or more people.


  • Don’t interrupt someone else. Let them make their point;
  • Focus your attention on what the other person is saying at that moment, and don’t think about the possible answers you can give them.


If there is a problem that needs to be solved, there is a behavioral pattern to be overcome or an action to be taken in the face of an individual circumstance. Problem-solving involves taking a proactive attitude.

References and Further Reading

KRASNER, Linda. Interpersonal Problem-Solving. Research Gate.

FLYNN, Katie. Steps to Interpersonal Problem Solving. Prezi.

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