6 Steps to Solving Almost Any Work Problem – Helen Gurley Brown

What matters more than your specific work problem? Knowing the general steps that can help you overcome most job stresses!  These steps to solving work problems are inspired by quotations from successful career woman and former Cosmopolitan editor, Helen Gurley Brown.

“Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlep,” said Brown.

Though some women are extremely fortunate, most successful women start with similar levels of education, resources, and money. We’re all “schelps” at one point in our careers…but the most successful career women use the resources available to get from “down there” to “up here”! A valuable career book for women is Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn. And, another way to succeed is knowing how to solve work problems, which these tips cover…

6 Steps to Solving Almost Any Work Problem – Helen Gurley Brown

1. Figure out how you’re contributing to the problem at work. Sometimes our own personalities, insecurities, and past experiences cause or contribute to work conflicts. And, tackling our own issues — such as an inability to stand up for ourselves despite criticism — can positively affect or even solve the problem. For instance, a minor attitude adjustment on your part can trigger an attitude adjustment on your coworkers’ part…and it may be enough to make a big difference. It can take an uncomfortable amount of self-awareness, honesty, and insight to ‘fess up to your contributions to the problem, but that short-term discomfort can increase the chances you’ll achieve your career goals.

2. Talk to your coworkers about finding solutions to the problem. Is your job stress affecting other people at work? If so, brainstorm solutions with them. Don’t let your discussion deteriorate into a complaining session; instead, stay focused on digging up the root of the problem and sincerely trying to find ways to solve it. Be proactive and positive.

3. Refrain from criticizing your company, boss, or colleagues. When I was in university, I worked at Red Robin restaurant for several years. My favorite manager — a hard-working, friendly, supportive supervisor — got himself fired because he criticized the company in front of his staff. Whether you’re a supervisor or a new employee, regardless of what your problem is, don’t complain about your job, coworkers, or supervisors. Even if it doesn’t eventually get back to them, it makes you look unprofessional and petty.

4. Talk to the employee who can make a difference. If, for instance, your work problem involves dealing with negative or bossy coworkers, then there’s no point in talking to the person who delivers the mail! To solve any type of job stress, you need to talk to the person who is directly involved. This quotation from Helen Gurley Brown sums it up nicely: “My success was not based so much on any great intelligence but on great common sense.”

5. Be open to different options, and look for win-win situations. The more creative and willing you are to consider different ways to solve your work problem, the higher your chances of success. If you want a raise, for example, remember that there are work perks other than financial remuneration. For instance, you might negotiate shorter work days or a shorter work week so you can think about starting your own business. Or, you might not be able to eliminate the stress of dealing with a negative coworker or supervisor, but you could consider changing your hours or workspace so you deal with that coworker less often.

6. Decide what you’re willing to live with at work. What if you can’t solve your specific work problem — and you’re worried that it might affect whether or not you will get ahead at work? You need to decide what your bottom line is. Will you quit your job if you can’t solve this work problem, or will you stay where you are for another year (or seven)? If you determine in advance what you’re willing to live with, you’re less likely to make an impulse decision you’ll regret later.

“The only thing that separates successful women from the ones who aren’t is the willingness to work very, very hard.” ~ Helen Gurley Brown.

If you have any thoughts or questions on these steps to solving work problems, please comment below…

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