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Chapter 3. Problem Solving > Barriers to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Barriers to Problem Solving and Decision Making

A number of barriers may exist that affect the actuality of problem solving and decision making. Decision makers may not be aware that barriers are detracting from the decision-making process. Some of the most common barriers to problem solving and decision making are:

  • Resistance to change: People are often reluctant to change from the time-honored way of doing things. Resistance to change can prevent people from taking chances and from considering new possibilities.

  • Habits: Habits limit our vision of what can be accomplished and many stand in the way of solving a problem. Habits may go undetected by an individual and may be a tremendous deterrent to correcting a problem. For example, receptionist who is having difficulty in completing his or her work may be unaware that the habit of taking personal calls is taking the bulk of work time.

  • Individual insecurity: Individual insecurity may deter individuals from taking risks or from pursuing behavior that may require them to take a stand. Individual insecurity may come from past experiences or from an overall lack of self-confidence.

  • Past history: Knowing what has happened before and what worked and did not work can inhibit an individual's desire to try new methods of problem solving or decision making. Past history is frequently an excuse for not making changes. The individual, who may not wish to approach a situation in a new way, may remind others that a similar idea failed in the past.

  • Fear of success or failure: At some time, everyone experiences some type of fear. The fear of success or failure may be viewed as unreasonable, but it can greatly deter the confrontation of problems. The unknown can be a frightening thing. When a new way of doing something is attempted, the possibility exists that it may work well or not at all. In either instance, changes may result. While some people thrive on recognition, others shy away from it. These fears may cause people to avoid the possibility of success or failure altogether.

  • Jumping to conclusions: When problems must be solved and decisions made, it is easy to jump to conclusions. When someone jumps to conclusions, assumptions are made about what might or might not work or the possible results; assumptions may frequently take on negative perspectives.

  • Perceptions: As we have stated, perceptions are the ways that we see things based on our experiences. We may be unable to see something from another perspective because we are so blinded by our own perception.


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