The scenario is this: you arrive home tonight only to find your lounge window has been smashed in and shattered glass lies strewn all over your lovely new carpet.  The offending football remains in pride of place in the lounge, front and centre.  There are no other humans in sight.  How do your thoughts progress?  Do you jump to the obvious, (to you) conclusion that those blasted kids next door have been playing football in your garden, again?  Or do you take a deep breath, count to ten and start gathering facts before exploding?

We are advised to take time before we lose our rag, go off the deep end, blow our stack or whatever cliché does it for you.  Rather than waste effort and emotion by getting furious and stomping over to the neighbours, let us gather some facts and investigate the situation.

Firstly, we remove the emotion and define the issue with facts and record the incident, (what has happened), subject, (who or what has the incident happened to or involved and then the resulting effect and costs.  For example, lounge window smashed resulting in $500 repair bill and no one injured.  Nowhere there have we said that it was the neighbouring children and I need to race over for retribution.  We have not jumped to any conclusions here and emotion is absent, meaning more peaceful time for you.

Secondly, we need to put in place a quick fix or interim measure.  In our scenario, it might mean having a quick look around, (no harm in starting an investigation as soon as the incident is discovered), stopping loved ones entering the area while you clean up the glass.  Even the positive action of cleaning might help you cool down a little bit.  And no one has been hurt.  A key point to remember.

Then we begin our objective investigation, engaging any person who can help with this.  Focus on facts and not just your opinion is definitely the way to go. I expect that if the football has the neighbours’ name and address on it, you will probably want to start asking questions there.  Were there any eye witnesses?  Was there anyone in the house at the time?  Has anything else changed?  Has anything been taken?  Basically we want to ask open questions including who, what, when, why, where and show me.  Creating a timeline of events leading up to the incident can help you immensely.  Maybe the neighbouring children had nothing to do with the damage and you discover valuable items are missing.  It was a robbery rather than a football, which was nothing more than a diversion.

Once you have gathered all the facts, (and the amount of time this takes will depend on the type of incident, severity, etc._) you can start to propose causes and contributing factors, e.g. football through window.  It is good practice to then ask, ‘why?’  Because it was kicked, thrown.  The ‘by whom’ hopefully has come out in your investigation.  Why? Because the kids next door don’t have enough of their garden to play in.

We then can put actions in place to address our defined issue, including by whom and by when if possible.  Perhaps we get the neighbouring parents to agree to take their kids to the park.  Maybe you can offer to take those kids to the park.  Obviously we won’t solve it here as this is a hypothetical glass issue.  But you get the idea. Following up on actions taken in months to come is advised.  If you arrive home next week to another smashing in window, your implemented actions may have been insufficient to address the issue.

When we take the time to clearly define the issue without emotion clouding the situation, we are much better placed to implement appropriate solutions.

Define the problem.