How to Make Decisions Quickly in a High-Stress Workplace


Are you trying to make decisions quickly in a high-stress workplace? The ability to perform well and make right decisions under pressure is a critical skill that is required at every level. Those who master this skill often report that it gives them an advantage over those who crumble under stress. Most times, people need ample time to analyze the situation and consider various alternatives before arriving at a decision. However, in a high-stress workplace, this is a luxury they cannot afford as you are expected to make right choices in the shortest time possible. But do not despair as pressure can result in focused attention and the use of unconscious reasoning. According to research, one of the best ways to prevent yourself from making bad decisions under stress is by training and preparing for it. Practice enriches your skills and self-efficacy, allowing you to make decisions with minimal hesitation.

How to make decisions quickly in a high-stress workplace:

1. Frame the question

Before making a rash decision, take some time to carefully and thoroughly consider the challenge at hand and what you are trying to overcome. Some of the questions you should consider asking yourself include;
• What options do I have?
• What are the possible outcomes of my decision – short and long-term?
• What are my most important goals and values?
• How will this decision affect the organization?
These questions will help you look ahead and consider the likely outcomes of the decision you will make. This, in turn, makes you think faster, clearer and more prepared to make whatever decision is required of you.

2. Find answers to these questions

Now in this step, it is crucial that you calm your mind and thoughts regardless of how stressful the situation is. Proper decision making requires the use of the cerebral cortex of the brain- higher order processing region. Your goal is to create an optimal condition for this part of the brain to function optimally so that you can find the right answers. Here are a few tips to achieve tranquility of mind;
• Practice deep breathing exercise like those done in meditation practices. These deep breaths help to set up the brain for success
• If you can, get out of the office and take a short jog or walk to clear your mind
• Remove yourself from the situation. This way, you will be better placed to think and consider the possibilities of your decisions moving forward
Once you achieve a clear and calm state of mind, find answers to the questions in point one above.

3. Evaluate your answers

At this point in your decision-making process, the solutions you have reached may now have you leaning towards a few options. Now, your goal is to make sure the decision you are about to make is the right one. Here are some questions to help you make sure your choice is the right one:
• Does the decision feel right?
• Is the decision good for the company and you?
• Do the rewards of your decision outweigh the risks?
• Is the decision you have arrived at the best over the long term?
Weighing or applying scores to your options helps you identify the most suitable one. Usually, putting this in writing can be helpful. But in a high-pressure situation, you may have to do this exercise mentally. Evaluating your answers helps bring the focus in a rather chaotic situation and may help you highlight the best decision.

4. Apply your decision

You need to find the courage and willpower to take action on your decision. Rehearse in your mind what you will say when announcing your decision. It will also help to explain how you reached your decision and its benefits. Failure to brief other key players in your decision may slow things down and ultimately increase the pressure on everyone, especially you. Inform everyone of the potential scenarios and their particular responsibilities ahead of time.

5. After making the decision

To ensure you stay on track with your decision, and what you ultimately want to achieve, circle back to the very first step and again frame these questions;
• Have I made the right choice?
• Did I accomplish what I hoped?
• Is there anything else I can do?
If afterward, you feel like you made the wrong call, it is crucial that you work quickly to minimize the damage. The ability to do this depends on the particular scenario. However, if you know you made the wrong decision, do whatever you can to the right it before time makes it an even bigger issue.
Nothing tests the courage of a leader like making decisions quickly under high pressure. And while some people are naturally good at making decisions, this is a skill that can be learned and improved.

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