This was an interesting read, because my first thought was “the problem-oriented mode isn’t a third mode, it’s just what the advice mode looks like when it’s done right”… until I came across your list of issues and thought that huh, I guess that it is a distinct mode after all.
Come to think of it, the problem-oriented mode seems similar to coaching, and coaching manuals do explicitly say that coaching is not about offering solutions, but rather it’s about asking clarifying questions that help the other person figure out a solution themselves. So then the modes might reflect varying points in a space with three dimensions: amount of support, amount of offered solutions, and amount of clarifying questions.
What you’re calling a problem-oriented mode sounds like it’s closer to coaching on the “clarifying questions” dimension than the two others are, but given that it’s still aiming to eventually involve proposing solutions, it’s not totally that.
Well, to clarify, I meant that you can still eventually propose solutions because you don’t have to be stuck in the problem-oriented mode forever rather than that my definition of problem-oriented mode allows proposing solutions.
So then the modes might reflect varying points in a space with three dimensions: amount of support, amount of offered solutions, and amount of clarifying questions.
I would want to clarify what “support” is, since part of my idea here is that asking clarifying questions can itself provide some emotional support. Some concrete actions which might constitute support:
Validating the other person’s feelings as legitimate.
Verifying that their response to the situation makes logical sense.
Verifying that what they are feeling isn’t weird (that it is “normal”)
Stating that their feelings are legitimate
Telling a similar story about yourself, to show that you have experienced similar things
Asserting support for the person.
Stating that you are there for them, want to help, care about them, etc.
Concrete reassurances, EG “I will never ____”
Showing social allegiance by denigrating “the other side” (if applicable)
Showing that you understand.
“That must feel ____” (correctly describing the other person’s state)
Talking about a similar experience you’ve had.
Making sympathetic satements, EG, “Yeah, that person is just awful”
Lots of these things feel like they could easily be the wrong thing, depending on the situation; this makes me think “support” is this complicated thing which can’t really be described by concrete conversational moves too well.