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Problem Solvers or Problem Seekers?

by | Feb 10, 2020 | Divorce

Probably your first task, when you are going to look for a family law attorney, is to decide whether you are looking for a problem solver or a problem seeker.

A problem solver listens to all of the issues that you bring up and also hears all those that you don’t even know about. A problem solver analyzes all the possible approaches to accomplish your goals and identifies the ones that have the greatest likelihood of success with the least degree of confrontation (for the sake of confrontation). A problem solver works toward resolution. A problem solver solves your problems.

A problem seeker, on the other hand, listens to your issues and looks for areas to exploit. Are you mad about this? Are you hurt about that? Let’s dig in here. Let’s dig down there. Let’s get you so focused on your anger, your grief, that you will enjoy the bitter ride, short term. You will enjoy crucifying your soon-to-be ex. After all, he deserves it. “We’ll get ’em.” “We will avenge you.” A problem seeker works toward exacerbation. A problem seeker makes your problems worse.

You will enjoy that ride, short term, but you will regret the ride, long term. You will regret the cost of the protracted, ever deepening battle which likely will not produce the goals you really hold nor accomplish your long-term interests. You will regret the ride that makes it harder to recover from what is already a very tough situation.

So, problem solver, good. Problem seeker, bad. But God forbid you should fall prey to a problem starter.

A problem starter doesn’t even listen for the edge in your story to find a toehold to attack your ex. The problem starter drops bombs everywhere. They are after your opposing counsel. They are after the judge. They might say they will vanquish your ex, but they really want to vanquish the system which is just a stand-in for their own inner demons. If you find yourself in the clutches of a problem starter, don’t take your eyes off of them, just slowly back out of the room and escape.

How can you tell the difference between a problem solver and a problem seeker? The problem solver explains the game plan. The game plan makes sense from point A to point B. You are here and you want to get there. The problem solver’s road map seems to take everything into account and gets you where you ultimately want to go. The problem solver is focused on your short term, yes, but is particularly focused on your long term. The problem solver gets you there.

The problem seeker is focused on your unhappy emotions, your anger, your sadness. The problem seeker does not lay out a roadmap. Instead, they gin you up for a battle, talking about justice and right and wrong and vindication. All words to get you excited and make you feel more empowered, but words and energy and money that totally miss the point, the direction of a family law case. The problem seeker gets you intractably stuck.

A family law case should be very pragmatic, problem oriented, problem solving focused. This is because the family law judge tends to be very pragmatic, problem oriented, problem solving focused. The family law judge has heard it all. The family law judge has usually heard about ex’s that are ten times worse than yours. She is not going to get too worked up about who did what to whom. Instead, she is going to quickly get to what she perceives is the point and resolve it. It is not that she is unsympathetic. It’s just that she has heard it all before and she has 1,000 other family law cases still waiting to be heard. Her time is precious. You aren’t going to be able to get a lot of it.

So, right off the bat, you need to decide whether you are out to achieve an objective or out to settle a score. Right off the bat you need to decide whether you want to accomplish something or you want to bloody someone’s nose. Right off the bat, you need to decide who are you looking for to see you through, a problem solver or a problem seeker.

And then you need to act accordingly.

-Michael Manely