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Learning Objectives

There are four aspects to strategizing:

  • 3A: Identify potential SOLUTION strategies
  • 3B: Assess your SKILLS
  • 3C: WEIGH strategies and select the best one
  • 3D: Make a PLAN

What Now?

You’ve decided on what you’d like to accomplish. Now the big question is how to go about getting there.

Step 3A: Identify Potential SOLUTION Strategies

A solution strategy is what you could do proactively to meet your milestones and attain your objective. The best way to start strategizing is to generate a number of different approaches you could use to reach the concrete outcome you want. Whatever comes to mind first is not always the best approach, and sometimes multiple strategies work better in solving problems than a single strategy.

By brainstorming, you generate as many possible strategies as you can without judging, analyzing, or evaluating them right away. Sorting them out comes a bit later.

Negotiation is a communication skills module that highlights strategies that you can apply in your own negotiations.

Managing Conflict is a communication skills model that teaches you what to watch out for when conflict arises, and what to do to effectively manage and resolve it.

Brainstorming is a module that will help you become more creative and open-minded as you generate alternative strategies to help solve problems you are facing in graduate school.

Step 3B: Assess Your SKILLS

Before you can decide upon a course of action, you need to recognize what you know how to do. You also have to determine what you need to learn in order to apply your identified strategies effectively.

You may have many more strengths than you realize, and these assets can help you reach your desired outcome. You may want to bolster your current skills by building upon them or developing new skills through practice.

It might also be helpful to talk to your colleagues about how they’ve handled similar experiences. You can get ideas from your mentors or role models. Sometimes, gathering information about policies can spark approaches you haven't thought of.

No matter your approach, it is always a good idea to ask yourself questions such as:

  1. What strengths do I bring to the situation?
  2. What are some struggles that I might encounter and how do I minimize their effect? What skills would be helpful to reduce these struggles?
  3. What information would strengthen my ability to execute my skills more effectively?
  4. What are some skills I could benefit from strengthening?

Is there a person that I can safely talk to who can help me identify my strengths and weaknesses?

Assertiveness is a communication skills module that will help you be able to recognize assertiveness, and learn approaches for being assertive in your interactions with others.

Build On Your Strengths module will assist you with identifying and taking advantage of your assets.

Step 3C: WEIGH Strategies and Select the Best One

You have identified a number of possible strategies you could use, reviewed your personal assets, and brushed up on some skills. Now it’s time to consider the possible solution strategies more carefully and make a decision about which have the best chance of success and which you want to try first.

Making good decisions involves weighing your different options and choosing which one will work for you based on your desired outcome, your individual style, your skills, your values, and other key personal and environmental factors.

Remember that the likelihood of a good outcome depends largely on your ability to execute the strategy successfully. If you want to bolster certain skills first, you can search the CareerWISE site for immediate help.

Make Good Decisions is a module that will teach you to assess how you make decisions under different circumstances, evaluate whether or not these decision-making styles are working for you, and learn ways to become a better decision maker.

Step 3D: Make a PLAN

Next, you need to think through and rehearse the strategy you have selected. Map out a sequence of things you will do when you’re ready to act. It's best to figure out how you want to convey your message, as well as when the right time to convey your message will be.

Making a good plan involves anticipating possible consequences once you enact your strategy. Imagining how you might feel and thinking about how the situation might unfold will help you feel better prepared. Of course you cannot really know what will happen in advance or predict exactly how you will feel, but you CAN lessen your anxiety with some important skills and practice.

You can rehearse your plan in a few ways. For example, you can imagine the scenario in your mind—what you will say or do, how the other person might respond, what you would do next, and so on. If it’s a face-to-face interaction you’re planning, you can try it out in front of the mirror. Watching your facial expressions and gestures as you rehearse your words will give you some instant feedback on how you might come across. You can record audio or video tapes of yourself too, and then surprise yourself when you review the recordings. Finally, you can nab a partner, friend or colleague to role play the situation—ask her or him to give you a hard time so you can practice responding!

Planning the Message is a communication skills module that will help you learn to prepare a well-crafted message in order to communicate more efficiently with the limited amount of time you have.


Which of the following is a part of an effect plan? Choose the best answer.

The best answer is D. In strategizing to make an effective plan, it is vital to weigh your options before making any hasty decisions (answer B). During that process, examining yourself to see what strengths you bring to the situation (answer C) can help you build a plan that is custom-tailored to your abilities and needs. Lastly, rehearsing your plan (answer A) is an often-ignored option that can help you prepare for the worst, and ensure then when you encounter unexpected problems, you are ready.

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