Problem Talker vs. Problem Solver

When my oldest daughter was four years old, she would constantly blurt out all her problems.

"I am hungry."

"I want my doll."

"I am cold."

She got very good at talking about the problems.

She kept expecting me and her mother to solve all her problems for her.

I finally got tired of this and came up with the following concept:

You can be a “problem talker” or a “problem solver.”

"If you are hungry, what’s something you could do to be a problem solver?"

She thought about it and said, "Get a snack from the fruit bowl."

I said, “That’s a good way to be a problem SOLVER.”

"If you want your doll and it’s in the other room, what could you do to solve your own problem?”

She thought about it and said, “I guess I could go over there and pick her up myself.”

I said, “That’s being a good problem SOLVER.”

Then I said, “If you’re cold, how could you solve your problem?"

She said, “Maybe I could go put on my jacket.”

I said, “Yes, that’s very good. You’re a very good problem SOLVER.”

From that point forward, anytime she’d talk about her problems, I’d remind her by saying...

“Honey, are you being a problem talker right now, or a problem solver?"

I’ll ask you the same question:

This week, are you being a problem talker or a problem solver?

Mastery at one of those two skills results in greater career achievement.

Mastery of the other skill gets you nowhere.

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2 comments… add one
  • Tony D'Andrea Apr 12, 2018, 11:51 am

    Yes, solving is crucial. But isn’t understanding the problem a priority as well?… That’s why we ask clarification questions at the beginning, and try to spell out a rationale for problem solving that will make it more understandable and effective. Makes sense?…

    • Victor Cheng Apr 25, 2018, 7:27 pm

      Hi Tony,

      I agree with you. Using your terminology, replacing the phrase “problem talking” with “complaining about problems without actually trying to solve them” may better convey my point.


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