Problem-solving skills are mental processes that allow you to take on a problem, choose the best of many problem-solving techniques for that particular situation, and think through the steps to find a solution. Scientists consider problem-solving the most complex intellectual function that living organisms perform. Problem-solving skills are very important—both to individuals and to teams—because they give the ability to face a dilemma head-on, use already-familiar techniques to reach a desired outcome, and solve the problem with the least difficulty possible in the most effective way.

You can test your problem-solving skills by taking on word problems or other brainteasers. The Internet has many sites dedicated to these types of exercises. We are faced with problems we must solve all day long; some of our problem-solving skills come naturally as a result of performing logical everyday tasks. For example, when you need to go to the bank your brain automatically goes through the problem-solving process to figure out the best time to go, the best route to take at that time, and the best route to take back home. This might seem very simple, but it is problem-solving nonetheless—and it puts your problem-solving skills into action.

Albert Einstein once said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." He was completely right: You have to make up your mind not to hit your head against the proverbial brick wall again and again. Instead, you can learn new ways to problem-solve, so that when you face the same problem numerous times, you'll know how to solve it once and for all—instead of trying the same old way that didn't work the first, second, and tenth time. Many different problem-solving methods and skills have been developed over the years, and they are there for you to learn and use: You can become an expert problem solver. Life and work are so much easier when you have the right tools to solve the problems you face.

About the Author

Written by Chris Fletcher (aka the Lease Guy). Chris is a senior account executive at Crest Capital, where he manages vendor finance programs for manufacturers and dealers of equipment, vehicles, and software. He's also an active Twitterer—check out his page if you follow financial topics and current events in the world of finance.