Problem-Solution Patterns A problem-solution pattern divides information into two main sections, one that describes a problem and one that describes a solution. This pattern is typically used in persuasive writing, where the writer's general purpose is to convince the reader to support a certain course of action. The pattern is designed to compel the reader to make some kind of change in opinion or behavior by establishing that a problem exists, then providing a solution. In the problem section, the writer identifies different aspects of the problem being discussed and offers evidence of these problems. In the solution section, the writer identifies a potential solution and supports the effectiveness of this solution over others.
The ability to listen with empathy may be the most important attribute of interveners who succeed in gaining the trust and cooperation of parties to intractable conflicts and other disputes with high emotional content. Among its other advantages, as Burley-Allen points out, empathic listening has empowering qualities. Providing an opportunity for people to talk through their problem may clarify their thinking as well as provide a necessary emotional release. Thomas Gordon agrees that active listening facilitates problem-solving and, like Burley-Allen's primer on listening, Gordon's "Leadership Effectiveness Training" provides numerous exercises and suggestions for those seeking to strengthen their listening skills.