Over the break between semesters, my sister and I had a miscommunication that resulted in frustrated feelings. Siblings fight. My sister and parents were planning to go to Kentucky that weekend to visit family, so my mother called my sister in the heat of the frustration and asked “What do I need to do to help you get everything done?”
This question resonated with me—instead of my mother getting frustrated over the frustrations of my sister and me, she focused her attention on what needed to be done to get everyone ready. She managed the stress of three family members by redirecting focus to the goal: getting the group packed and ready to go for the trip down to Kentucky.
From my mother’s lead, I’ve been working to be more solutions-oriented this year. Recently, I was working with a coworker on a project and my coworker had fallen behind on our deadline. Instead of allowing my frustration to build up or attempting to simply take over what needed to be done, I reached out to the coworker and asked the same question “What do I need to do to help you get everything done?” My coworker redirected a few responsibilities my way and we moved forward. The project was completed and we were able to maintain a good working relationship through a stressful situation. I choose support over confrontation to achieve my means. In a moment where we could have been stalled by stress and overwhelmed feelings, I reached out in a positive and cooperative manner to maintain momentum.
If I am going to be solutions-oriented when working with others, this also means taking a solutions-oriented approach when I feel overwhelmed myself. I had practice that this week for a new member program I have been piloting for the fraternity and sorority community at University of the Pacific. As I was scheduling new members into classes for our New Member Institute, I realized I felt overwhelmed. During my one-on-one with my boss, I began our conversation by admitting those feelings and asked for a working-meeting where he helped me organize the scheduling and get everything prepared for the event. If I am going to be a person who asks others how I can help them to move forward, I also need to be a person that reaches out when I need help from others to ensure everything is being accomplished. Being solutions-oriented isn’t a singular approach for working with others, it also has to be an approach for how I would like people to work with me. It’s a both/and philosophy that I am developing myself as a future professional.
As I move into the student affairs profession post-graduation, I want to be a solutions-oriented person. It’s easy to feel frustrated when things are not being accomplished or projects have been stalled. It’s easy for me to feel frustrated, and I want to be a person who moves past frustration to help everyone succeed. It’s about more than simply ‘getting things done,’ but cooperating with and supporting others to accomplish goals. Anyone can push forward with projects, the difference between this philosophy and taking a solutions-oriented approach is an aspect of relationship-building and harmonizing.
This is challenge for me. While I appreciate harmony in a group setting; it’s not something I strive to develop, (I need to be self-aware if I am working to change.) I’ve been more results-oriented than solutions-oriented in the past. As I’ve been applying for jobs, updating my LinkedIn and considering the types of jobs and institutions I am interested in working for once I graduate, I’ve also been reflecting on the type of professional I want to be. Which leads me to goal of becoming a solutions-oriented person in 2015 and beyond, to become the type of employee who builds others up through times of frustration and actively cooperates to complete goals, the person who champions through moments of stress instead of building on the frustrations of others. Here’s to 2015 and a new approach to my working philosophy.