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If you are in business, it’s inevitable that challenging situations will arise from time to time, and you will find yourself forced to make difficult decisions.

You may have to deal with the aftermath of a product that fails. Or a delivery may be canceled that creates a customer emergency for you to solve. Some experiences will not be under your control, but it doesn’t matter. In business you must make difficult decisions. But, the good news is, you can learn to make better decisions that result in more positive outcomes.

Make decisions that consider the consequences

Do you think your actions don’t have consequences? The only people who think that are the ones who don’t realize that all actions have consequences. Some consequences are expected and others aren’t.

I’ve seen management make decisions for customers when they clearly didn’t think through the consequences of their actions. One management team thought they were improving their customers’ business by designing a new buying incentive program every year. They didn’t realize that their ever-changing programs were impacting purchasing decisions.

The company began to notice a lag in purchasing, both at the end of the year and the beginning of the year each time a new program was presented. Why? Because the customers knew that at the end of the year a different program was soon going to be presented, and they might get a better deal by waiting to purchase after January 1.

Eventually, management stopped constantly reinventing the incentive program when they saw the lost sales for two months of business each year. Customers were happier and the company saw steady sales again only when it fully considered the consequences of its business decisions.

Going it alone isn’t a smart strategy

I once worked for an incompetent manager. He threatened customers, selected under-performers for the wrong assignments, and created obstacles to others’ success. In a perfect world, this person would never have been put in a position to manage others—but the real world is not a perfect one. I could have gone to Human Resources to complain. But I wondered what one voice would be against his? Even more difficult was the fact that he had more seniority than I did.

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One day you may have to address incompetence in your place of business, as challenging as that might be. Often, a group is better than a lone voice in addressing needed change. Eventually, a group voice did address my troubling situation. My peer group participated in this manager’s 360-degree feedback evaluation. As the group facilitator stated, “This is the worst performance of a manager I have seen in my 20 years of group facilitation.” The incompetent manager was demoted shortly after.

Remember that people are watching

Smartphones are everywhere and people are looking for the next viral video to post. You might not expect someone to use their phone to videotape you at work, but it happens. Your peers, managers, employees, and customers are watching how you handle stress and difficult situations.

What do you do when a customer contacts you with an angry complaint? Do you fly off the handle and push back without listening first? Emotional situations are going to occur in business, and you must have a controlled temperament to handle them well.

Do you run to management to get someone else to handle your problems? Not being able to handle them yourself can be a sign to your manager that you might not be needed.

Often, there is no warning that a tsunami of trouble is coming in business. Successful business and salespeople watch for both verbal and nonverbal communication cues. They listen to the tone of a person’s voice as well as their body language. They are quick to sense when trouble is coming, and they have the confidence that they can handle a difficult situation calmly.

Can you listen carefully to customers and colleagues and truly hear what someone is saying? Your interpersonal skills can play a large role in helping to deescalate situations that may be brewing.

There will always be challenges in business. Learning how to make better business decisions is an important professional skill that can help you in your career, no matter what stage you’re at.

RELATED: Make Better Business Decisions by Following This 7-Step Process

Originally published at All Business

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