Problem Talker vs. Problem Solver

In life and work, there are two ways to approach a problem. You can talk about a problem, or you can solve the problem.

The problem talker spends all of his time complaining about the problem.

"Boss, this budgeting process is so inefficient and a waste of time."

"The way we orient new employees to the company is so confusing."

"I hate how that one tree branch blocks the stop sign at the intersection; someone should tell the city to fix it."

The problem with being only a problem talker is that complaining about a problem doesn’t actually change the situation for the better.

In many cases, being a problem talker (or complainer) feels good.

The problem is always someone else’s fault and responsibility. It’s easy to see yourself as superior to others because you pointed out a problem and criticized others for it.

In contrast, the problem solver not only notices the problem but also decides to solve the problem outright, or at least takes the first one or two steps needed to find an appropriate solution.

The problem solver notices the budgeting process is inefficient and proposes an alternative approach that would work better.

The problem solver notices that the new employee orientation is confusing. He also writes up a new employee checklist to help new hires remember what they need to do on their first days on the job.

The problem solver notices a tree branch is blocking a stop sign creating a safety problem... and takes the five minutes to call city officials to let them know of the problem and its exact location.

Problem talkers add no value to an organization. Problem solvers are worth their weight in gold.

From an employer's perspective, you can never have enough problem solvers in your company.

Guess which approach to problems will benefit your career more?

Career acceleration isn’t rocket science. It’s just about making the extra effort to do things that others typically won’t.

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4 comments… add one
  • David Stotelmyre Feb 24, 2020, 12:40 pm

    Thank you, Victor, for another note on how to navigate the professional and personal realms of life. Your insights are very useful and receiving this on a Monday morning was a terrific way for me to start the week.


    • Victor Cheng May 4, 2020, 5:06 pm


      Glad you found it helpful.


  • Evan Feb 24, 2020, 12:23 pm


    I’ve been a little disappointed in your last few blog posts. They emphasize points you’ve made many times before and don’t offer unique advice. For example, I would say this post retreads your advice to “Come to your boss with a solution whenever you raise a problem.” That’s good advice! But the value added to me from the 10th reread is low.
    I’m raising this issue because – with the recent low “hit rate” (value I’ve found) of the articles – I find myself no longer wanting to read your blog posts / e-mail updates of them. I’m wondering if it’s possible to in some way (e.g. in the subject line or otherwise) flag whether a post is tackling a topic that you’ve never written on before or is instead revisiting (which is okay!) a topic you’ve covered previously.

    Hope that this functions as a problem solving act! Your work has been a great help to me and I know that you have a lot of great ideas left to share.


    • Victor Cheng May 4, 2020, 5:08 pm

      Hi Evan,

      Thanks for your feedback. I will give this some further thought offline. I do reinforce some timeless principles as I see many aren’t doing it. I hear that you have and are looking only for the new stuff. I don’t have a good solution currently to segment audiences based on these differences in needs but will give it some further thought. Thank you for taking the time to share you perspective. It is appreciated.

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