10 Things I Learned About Problem Solving at Best Buy

Written by: Tony Mussari, Sr.
Photographs by: Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2010

Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher. Anonymous

My wife and I entered the Best Buy store in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with a three-week old laptop computer that had us talking to ourselves and running around in circles. The USB ports on the computer were defective.  The computer fried two portable drives containing all of the original material from nine months of work on our Face of America project.

To be honest, the anxiety and the stress levels were off the chart. We were beside ourselves with worry.

In less than a week, we made three visits to Best Buy. During each visit, we learned some things about problem solving in times of crisis.

This is what we learned:

1. Don’t complain. Explain.  Lay out the problem in a clear, concise manner; 

2. Don’t judge. Join the team. Resist the temptation to blame anyone or anything.  Put the problem in context;

3. Don’t argue. Affirm. This will create a positive environment;

4. Don’t make threats.  Make promises that speak to positive activities;

5. Don’t think worst case scenarios. Think solutions;

6. Don’t express every emotion you are feeling. It creates negative energy. Be positive, and offer encouragement;

7. Remember the importance of body language. Avoid looks that kill. They accomplish nothing, and they create resentment;

8. Don’t be impatient.  Be understanding. Solutions to complicated problems take time and a good deal of experimentation;

9. Don’t yell or scream. Speak in a calm and civil tone of voice. Angry people can very easily become suspect;

10. Remember the seven most important words in the English language: What can I do to help you? They record what you need and want. They also speak to what the people helping you need and want from you.

When the transaction is finished, say thank you and mean it. Take the time to make a call or write a note of appreciation. Never underestimate the healing power of thoughtful words and kind deeds.

In a very real way, attitude is the mother of problem solving. The solution to everything in life begins with a positive attitude.

The words of Charles R. Swindoll apply:

We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.

In my opinion, Teddy Roosevelt wrote the book on problem solving when he asked and answered this question: Have you got a problem?  Do what you can where you are with what you’ve got.

I was lucky. I was at the Best Buy store in Scranton, and I had Eric McFarland and Mark White to help me with my problem.

Until the next time, we hope that all of your stories have happy endings.

To provide feedback, please contact us at: tmussari@gmail.com