Problem Solving - The Basics

  • Review the history of your problem so you can clearly present your perspective. Write down the problem in chronological order. This will help you organize your thoughts and concerns.
  • Be clear about the nature of the problem and what solution or options you are hoping for.
  • What is the issue? Be clear – don’t tell your life story
  • How would you resolve the problem? – think about what a reasonable resolution would look like for you.
  • If you were the other person, what do you think would be a fair resolution?
  • Always keep a record. Write down important information and document all of the steps you have taken to resolve your problem, who you have spoken to, and the dates and times.
  • Keep copies of all your correspondence (emails, letter and even text messages) and forms.
  • When contacting individuals identify yourself and your problem clearly.
  • Being aggressive or rude will never help you solve a problem, always remain calm and objective; be pleasant and polite (this encourages people to want to help you).
  • Listen carefully and don`t interrupt; sometimes problems develop when we fail to listen to the other person’s point of view. Ask questions and make sure you understand the other person’s point of view and any advice or instructions that you are given.
  • Be prepared for any meeting with instructors or staff by reviewing policies and procedures that relate to your problem and know your facts.
  • Deal with things immediately! – waiting to deal with a problem may create more problems in the future. Most appeals and other formal processes must be made within specific timelines.
  • Stay cool! Never try to solve a problem when you are angry – wait, cool off and then try.
  • Don’t give up! The University is a big and complex organization. Sometimes the first person you speak to may not be able to help you. Don’t take it personally if they refer you to someone else.
  • It’s OK to ask questions.
  • Don't panic! There are a lot of people at the university who want to help you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have exhausted all your options or if you don’t know where to begin, then contact the Ombudsperson.

The Office of the Ombudsperson is jointly funded by the SFSS, GSS and SFU