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  • 23 January 2014
  • Eric Michaels

Important business decisions: How to keep calm, cool, and collected

If you asked life coaches about tackling important business decisions, you would hear the importance of keeping your cool over and over. The calm and collected individual has an obvious advantage over someone who comes to a boil too quickly. Every decision has an element of clarity for one who remains calm, whose judgment is swayed solely by the facts. It is a winning formula. Here are some ways to stay cool when your business needs you the most:

Remember what you control

Theoretically, in every important life decision, you will have access to the necessary information and the time to come to the right conclusion — but unfortunately, you do not do business in a theoretical world. Forces outside of your control will often present themselves and chip away at your patience. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said it was not what happens to you but how you react to what happens that matters most.

Anything from beyond your control can enter the picture, but remember that you are ultimately in control of your business. That knowledge should keep you from responding aggressively to the delays of government agencies or the unsavory approach of an attorney. Those things are beyond your control and don't deserve your anguish.

Dictate the timetable

When you face important business decisions, the element of time often factors into the overall stress you feel. Since you are running the show and retain at least half the power in any business decision, dictate your own timetable.

This move can take several forms. You can choose to postpone a contract signing until the next day, for example, by asking for additional information from the parties involved, initiating a delay. You may even reject a deal to see what happens to the market and the players once you step back. Many bad decisions are made when time constraints force parties into acting before the time is right. Do not fall into the trap.

Know your weaknesses

You have probably come to know yourself well through the course of launching a business. Among the best assets to have is the knowledge of your own soft spots. Do you get bothered by slow responses when you are trying to draw conclusions? Has indecisiveness on the part of clients become a source of anger?

Whatever causes negativity in you to bubble to the surface, find an antidote so you can continue without letting it flare up among colleagues and partners. Your ability to look past minor annoyances gives you a distinct advantage in the business world.

Take a look at the dark side

It is easy to forget how destructive positive emotions can be when you are making important business decisions. Whatever has put you in an ecstatic mood — be it the initial offer you receive, the opportunity you envision, or a problem you see disappearing — remember it is likely that the deal is too good to be true.

Happiness is just as disabling an emotion as rage when the good of your company is at stake. Take yourself out of the deal to present the devil's advocate side of the equation. If you are not up for it, ask a trusted friend or colleague to walk you through it. Seeing every side of the deal is what separates the pros from the unprepared.

Poll your lieutenants

When the future of your business is at stake, it is a great time to talk to staff members and other members of your inner circle to hear what they think. Even though you are the one in control, you might hear an illuminating viewpoint that makes your decision easier.

At the end of the day, it is this clearheaded approach that makes successful business decisions possible. Experts in neuroscience continue to study why decisions get made. Only one thing is clear: the calm and collected are often winning the race.

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