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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Seeking Help

Dear Sue: Iíve noticed that you and other columnists often advise your readers to talk to someone about a problem. My question is who is someone? Is it a psychologist, a counselor or other professional of some kind? Who should someone turn to when he or she may not know who to turn to? And isnít it wrong to burden others with your personal problems?

- Looking for someone

Sue Says: When you are struggling with a problem, talking it over with someone else can help. Whether that person simply reassures you, offers a different perspective, has advice, or connects you with resources or other people who can help you, you will benefit. You donít want to burden others with every little problem you have, but if you are struggling with something and donít know where to turn, you should seek assistance. The ďsomeoneĒ you should talk to will vary depending on the circumstances.

Some matters are best discussed with a close friend or family member. Many work related and career issues can be resolved by talking directly with the person involved, a supervisor, someone in human resources or a career advisor. Sometimes itís best to talk to a person who is removed from the situation. When you want an unbiased and objective perspective, seek someone from the outside: a counselor, a coach, a mediator, a mentor, or anyone you know will not be affected by the outcome.

The process of working through a problem is beneficial in many ways and will help you see things more objectively. Personal problems should be discussed discreetly and with someone you trust be it a physician, or mental health professional. Dwelling on a problem without taking any action is stressful and a waste of time. In fact, many problems can be easily resolved, but instead are blown out of proportion. Focus on finding solutions; when you ask for help, the right person can help you shift your focus.

Confronting someone about a problem does not have to be confrontational or combative, and seeking professional guidance is nothing to be embarrassed about. Every problem you face can teach you something new about yourself and others.

Problems are inevitable, and few are insurmountable. Everyone has problems to deal with. It may be easier to avoid your problems than face them, but they never really go away unless you do. You may be able to push a problem aside temporarily, but chances are it will surface again. Whatever it is youíre trying to avoid could be the reason youíre having the problem in the first place. It takes courage and discipline to tackle the problems you encounter.

If you have a problem with someone or something, remember it is your problem, not theirs. When you donít know where to turn, ask others for suggestions. Research the internet, look in the yellow pages, and ask others for referrals. Take responsibility not only for your contribution to the problems you have, but for finding that ďsomeoneĒ who can help you resolve it.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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