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How to make objective decisions

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Making a good impression at work isn’t just about hitting those home runs. While it’s great to wow your boss and your colleagues with good ideas and even better results, it is the dozens of choices you make each day in the office that form the fabric of your reputation. Establishing yourself as someone who makes calm, wise decisions is a great way make yourself indispensable to the team – and boost your opportunities of promotion. And of course, all those small decisions ultimately add up to the great final results that are the cherry on the cake.

So why do so many of us end up making snap decisions in the workplace? Well, we’re only human – and the factors that influence the choices we make are often not the most objective or measurable ones. For example, it’s been proven that – for better or worse – even good weather can make us bolder than we might usually be. We also have a habit of paying too much heed to recent or alarming information, for example choosing to travel by car rather than by aeroplane when news of a recent air disaster is still fresh. Of course, you’re more likely to be hurt in a car than in a plane, but often we let our neuroses make the decisions!

At work, it means that you might find yourself responding in a hotheaded manner on a stressful day, or choosing a disproportionate response to an issue that seems important in the moment – but is actually not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s not surprising if making a habit of this can make you look unprofessional in the eyes of your colleagues. However good you are at the technical or creative side of your job, your people skills or your levels of organisation – figuring out how to make calm, objective decisions is a strategy that will take your professional game to the next level.

In order to make those kinds of decisions, the key thing is to get some distance from the emotional aspects mentioned above. When responding to any issue, try to allow a few minutes for the new information to sink in and you gut reaction to pass before you decide how to proceed. If it’s a particularly stressful or emotive issue, you might even walk away altogether, and spend ten minutes meditating, reading about something unrelated, or just going for a walk, in order to free up some space in your mind and allow your emotions to settle. Learning to recognise your emotional state is an excellent way of ensuring that you don’t become enslaved to your feelings.

It also helps to apply an objective framework to the situation. One method is to break your decision into five stages: survey your goals, consider your options, look at the facts, imagine the effects, and review your ideas. Another method is to give points to the pros and cons of each of your options, and see what comes out on top.

This new infographic provides several such strategies you can start to try out today. Objectively speaking, it can only be good for your career!

How to make objective decisions

Do you have any advice on how to make objective decisions? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo: Simon Doggett / Flickr

John ColeHow to make objective decisions

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