5 Problem-Solving Skills All Professionals Need
It can take time to find your desired career path. All of the education in the world can’t really prepare you for the real day-in, day-out struggles of working life. Unforeseen challenges abound — from attempting to navigate the salary negotiation process, to trying to find work/life balance, to getting along with difficult bosses and/or miserable coworkers. But, there are some skills that can ease the pressure of almost any work-life challenge.
Certain vital soft skills like good communication and leadership skills, and traits like self-motivation and emotional self-regulation, go a long way toward encouraging your happiness and your professional progress. Even though they often aren’t directly acquired through formal schooling, problem-solving skills are essential for success.
Here’s what they offer:
- The ability to be both practical and creative.
In order to solve difficult problems, it’s important to think outside of the box. Sometimes, a debate can become polarizing, and the possible solutions start to feel like either/or options, when in fact, a combination of the two ideas is better. In order to find that solution, workers need to think both practically and creatively. Keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground while also being innovative can be challenging, but understanding the value of doing so is an essential first step.
- Be positive.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of being positive. Our attitude, mood, and outlook impacts our lives in all kinds of ways. At work, especially when attempting to problem-solve, embracing a positive attitude is practically essential for success. This stuff is difficult. Being one of the people at work who takes challenges in stride emotionally, feels confident that a resolution will be reached, and works earnestly yet also lightheartedly toward those solutions could do wonders for your professional reputation and your career.
- The ability to change your mind.
One essential problem-solving skill that all workers ought to work toward is the ability to compromise. That sounds easy enough, but in practice it can be quite challenging. If you’re really dedicated to finding a way to come to an agreement with people who feel very differently than you do, you have to work on developing the mental flexibility needed to have your own mind changed. Only then, once you’ve fully grappled with how hard it is to shift your own thinking on an issue, can you have a greater ability to understand the process you’re asking others to go through. At this point, it might be easier to find a way toward a compromise that meets everyone’s needs.
- Clear and articulate communication.
Good communication enables you to understand ideas better, and transmit your own thoughts clearly. Without it, real problem-solving is nearly impossible.
Take the time to carefully chose your words. Break down your ideas into a few simple steps. Share main points and big ideas first, and then get into the details and the specifics. Good communication can’t exist without clarity – so take the time and care needed to ensure you deliver it. You’ll likely be rewarded professionally if you do.
“If you have a gift for the spoken and written word,” workplace expert and author Lynn Taylor told Forbes, “you will always put your best foot forward. Being articulate is highly prized in today’s workplace, when time is at a premium and technology requires constant communication.”
- A willingness to speak and to listen.
Of course it’s important to develop good listening skills in order to become an expert problem solver. What takes practice is actually exercising and reliably utilizing those listening skills during a conflict.
Sometimes, when things get heated, these skills can start to slip away. Additionally, it’s essential that you’re able to speak up for yourself in these situations. Too often workers can feel disappointed in the outcome of workplace issues when they’ve never really spoken up or shared their ideas. It’s hard to be strong enough to insist on sharing your views, but also fair-minded enough to really listen to the contributions of others. Practice makes perfect.
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