It’s odd for me to be at wits end with any problem. Not only do I consider myself a natural solver of problems that can find answers to any problem, but my rhetoric education/interest has taught me a great deal about resolving issues of various degrees. Yet, here I sit with another life altering problem on my hands and a critical moment of decision awaiting me on the horizon. All the melodrama aside, there are several ways in which problems are presented that are quite interesting, but more importantly is how we see solutions to any problem. Specifically, the sentence you choose to state your solution to a problem can really aid your effort for implementing that solution. In this post, I will cover certain pitfalls with understanding everyday solutions and ways that you can provide your own.

Having “a” solution vs. Having “the” solution vs. Analysis Paralysis

Before jumping into the ways that you can present your fantastic idea to save your company money on Monday morning donut sprinkle expenses, let’s examine some issues with solutions themselves. 

Having “A” solution, really means that the problem was not considered well. It could be lacking inspiration or maybe just real consideration of the complexity of the problem. I often call these types of solutions “Golden Key”. “Golden Key” means being sold on the solution before you’ve even heard it. Much like buying a car before test driving, these solutions are often the first presented and first taken. For instance, my housemate wanted to keep bugs out of the house by putting a screen on the backdoor. Instead of looking into installing screen doors, she stapled a 5 foot long roll of screen matte to the door frame. While I will admit I have not seen a fly in months, I have also found walking out the backdoor a tetanus shot away from being worth the walk through.

Having “The” solution runs a similar gambit as “a” solution, but is dependent on the rhetor not the listener. These solutions are where, upon hearing the problem, you are also presented only one solution that can be the only solution. These are the infomercials of classic late night cable television. Have you ever heard the line, “Have you been injured in an auto accident? Call us today”? While the genre of problem-solution articles or videos are a common place in every realm of business and academia, presenting your solution as “the one and only” solution is just plain unethical. Unless you’re the scientist that Aaron Eckhart played in the 2003 movie The Core, there are plenty of ways to solve your problem without the need to drill yourself to the center of the earth to set off nuclear warheads. [Side note: How is that movie not a ripoff of Armageddon?]

“Analysis Paralysis” is a great term I learned from a former boss that was attempting to teach me the in-and-outs of software licensing. All you need to know about that experience is that there was a ton of information with only a few critical routes to take to come to a reasonably “desired” outcome. Analysis paralysis really comes out in a few ways. The first main way is getting stuck in your problem without getting to a solution i.e. too many factors to consider. Try taking a step back and prioritize info. The other way this happens is having too many solutions. At that point, you’ve reached the apex of indecision and just need to decide a route. In either case, this is where the problem is making more problems. There’s nothing like being that guy who stares blankly at the Jack In The Box menu crippled between the decision to order tacos, or a hamburger, or a shake, or onion rings, or just go to Taco Bell, or going-home, or never returning, or… At some point, just make a decision.

Constructing your solution by utilizing basic sentences

You’ve gotten past all the pitfalls of understanding different solutions. First off, yay! Second, you’re going to have to communicate your solution to others. You at least need the people that can help you solve the problem. There are plenty of genres to do this. Project proposals are useful because you need to effectively show how well you thought through the problem. Presentations seem less common because they demand too much attention and work, but they have their place at conferences. Really, if we are to look at most problems that occur in every day life, then really all you need is a few good sentences to start.

Going back to grammar school, you’ll find that these may be quite familiar.


These sentences are where you are giving a command or a suggestion. 

Problem: Gutters on the house are dirty and causing water to get backed-up.

Imperative solution: “Billy, go and clean the gutters”

Billy, “Will do!”



This sentence is a statement of information. They are meant to convey factual information, but accuracy is not necessarily required.

Problem: Gutters on the house are dirty and causing water to get backed-up.

Declarative Solution: “Billy, the gutters are dirty and it’s your job to clean them”

Billy, “I’ll go and clean them then”



This is asking a question. Still useful for conveying a solution. “Have we tried…” is a common question one. There’s also the colloquial “rhetorical question” that is used more often.

Problem: Gutters on the house are dirty and causing water to get backed-up.

Interrogative solution: “Billy, have you cleaned the gutters recently?”

Billy, “Well, no. I guess I’ll go and clean them”



These are emotion filled sentences that end in an exclamation mark. I also threw in expletive (as in swears and insults), because they are not talked about in grammar school.

Problem: Gutters on the house are dirty and causing water to get backed-up.

Exclamatory solution: “Billy! Water is pooling on the roof!”

Billy, “I got this! I’ll go and clean them right away!”

Expletive solution: “Da** it, Billy!”

Billy, “Shoot, I forgot to clean the gutters. Better go do that”


When you’re looking at any solution to any problem really stop for a moment and ask yourself a few questions:

-Is this the only solution?

-How is the problem being conveyed to me? (I didn’t cover communicating problems in this post, but consider reading my post on Complaining)

-In what ways am I stating my solution? Am I using the sentence that best suits my audience?

-Is it really that necessary to think this deeply about providing solutions?

The answer to that last one is “no”. However, you’ll experience problems and issues every day. If you’re not being heard or getting frustrated that your ideas are not being taken seriously, then maybe you might consider how you present those ideas to others. Trying different strategies is in fact rhetoric and this post is really only getting at the most basic forms. However, one good sentence can change how we talk about a problem. Starting at a simple or basic beginning can really make the difference. It also doesn’t hurt to think about how you come at solutions.

As always, I really hope that someone got something out of this post. Please feel free to email me or comment if you enjoyed reading. If anything, I hope you have found something of value to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire.