“Making Mountains out of Molehills” and “The Sky is Falling”

I think we have all heard the phrase “Make a mountain out of a molehill” which is an over-reaction that makes too much of an issue. A couple of times over the last few months, I’ve come across examples of behavior that, for me, falls into the category of making mountains out of molehills. If you can’t read the caption above the picture it reads “Do not magnify your problems, making mountains out of molehills – for if you do, a giant mole may eat you”.


Also –  viewing the world as Chicken Little did, convincing yourself and others that the sky is falling is viewed as having a pessimistic attitude. Consistently putting the negative spin on life comes at the price of emotional and physical well-being.

Pessimists and naysayers in the work-place drain morale, sow discontent, breed apathy and have a tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view. A depressed and melancholy viewpoint manifested as a disposition causes irrational behaviors of individuals include taking offense or becoming angry about a situation that has not yet occurred, expressing emotions exaggerated, maintaining unrealistic expectations, engaging in irresponsible conduct.

Do you find yourself making a slight difficulty seem like a serious problem? Do you keep shouting about some potential catastrophe around the corner? Do you cause something simple to seem much more difficult or important? The occasional expression of emotional behavior is not necessarily a negative thing, except when it becomes so amplified or recurs so often that it prevents people from dealing rationally and productively with those around them.  Are you a “Chicken Little”?


The work environment can be a happy, productive place, though it isn’t always that way.  One little bit of negatively can seep through the workforce quickly, bringing down both the productivity and morale of people.  Some people often, and most people sometimes, have been in a situation where they can’t see the wood for the trees – that something becomes so mentally significant that the volume or contrast on everything is exaggerated and there is only the one thing, the “molehill”, which stands out.

A positive atmosphere focusing on teamwork and good communication makes for a healthy workplace. We can pull that healthy workplace into what is currently referred to as a “toxic” environment when we over react. We should all value clear, precise and honest communication. We should all communicate that way when it comes to any work-related issue, discussion, or passing on information with each other.

Reasoning is the process of examining data (facts, information, evidence, observations, and experiences) and drawing inferences, judgments, and conclusions from the data. However, the reality is that we confine much of our reasoning to the surface and our perceptions impact our problem solving and decision-making which creates conflict. Be able to clearly identify the problem and the obstacles that the problem presents. All too often, individuals refer to a series of problems instead of tackling the actual problem at hand. Because they are so caught up in the negativism of the situation, they don’t look for solutions to resolve the issue.


When dealing with a problem, don’t jump to conclusions. Once you have all of your information, analyze it carefully and look at it from various viewpoints. Be as objective as possible and don’t be quick to judge. Remain judgment free as much as possible. This is a time for you to use your critical thinking skills.

Problems are a natural, everyday occurrence of life, and in order to suffer less from the tensions and frustrations they cause, we must learn how to deal with them in a rational, logical fashion. Good problem solving and decision-making are two of the most challenging and complex, yet vitally important skills required of individuals and teams in organizations.

One of the most exciting aspects of life is the array of choices that we have on a daily basis. Problem solving is one of the most important skills for success in the workplace and at home. The ability to identify a problem, evaluate all of the relevant factors and develop a good solution is essential. It is important that you approach the decision-making process with a positive attitude, view the situation as an opportunity, avoid emotional responses and always attempt to be rational.


You should not allow the problem to overwhelm you. You should approach it rationally and remind yourself that every problem is solvable if it is tackled appropriately. Fear can block your ability to think clearly, but if you:

  • Follow a workable procedure for finding solutions
  • Accept the fact that you can’t foresee everything
  • Assume that the solution you select is your best option at the time
  • Accept the possibility that things may change and your solution fail

Then you can enter the problem-solving process rationally. Next, you need to decide how significant the problem is. Sometimes what you think is a major problem, when analyzed, proves to be a minor one. Considering various perspectives of a problem makes the task of solving it interesting and challenging. They also help us to improve our current way of doing things. As we practice to solve problems, we learn to be innovative and not reactive.


We should approach every problem with an open mind. That is probably not something we do very well. You probably approach a problem with some preconceived notions about how it is all going to end. You probably come at it with a negative attitude and look at the problem as an annoyance. We should look at it as a challenge and treat it as great mystery that we get excited about solving. Your attitude can go a long way in your success as a problem solver. You have to be positive.

Even if you are a practiced problem-solver, holding your emotions in check so that you can think clearly may be difficult at times. For some however, falling prey to these anxieties is the rule rather than the exception Overcoming these fears and anxieties is the first step in learning to problem-solve effectively.


When you approach a problem with a can do attitude you are able to stop yourself from getting frustrated easily. You are more open to letting your ideas flow and more likely to try out several solutions. You cannot avoid problems, so it is only logical to become a good problem solver. A good problems solver is going to be an asset. They are someone good to have around. Make yourself that problem solver. Be the person everyone loves to have around. Be the person who can look at a complex situation and come up with a solution!

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP


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