How to overcome challenges in the workplace

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Being prepared for the unexpected is all part of day-to-day office life. Challenges present themselves in ways you might not have planned for, knocking your workflow off balance in the process.

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Being prepared for the unexpected is all part of day-to-day office life. Challenges present themselves in ways you might not have planned for, knocking your workflow off balance in the process. With the right procedures and plans in place, however, you can easily overcome challenges at work when faced with the unexpected.

Here, we’ll talk through tactics and methods to help you deal with some of the most common challenges in the workplace.

Stay level-headed in the moment

In a heated situation, it can be easy to fly off the handle, especially when strong workplace emotions start bubbling to the top. Always let a cooler head prevail, if you need to make a decision or take action, keeping your emotions in check and remaining professional is perhaps the most important thing.

Remember that feelings are not facts. Consider the information that’s available to you and give yourself a few hours to calm down before you move on. Once the feelings have subsided, you’ll appreciate the restraint that you displayed. Also, have you faced something similar before? If so, how did you overcome it the first time around? Use your time to reflect before you react, see what resources are available to you or see if a colleague can help. Rushing straight into things could cause more problems.

Likewise, if you were passed over for that big promotion in favour of someone else, it’s important to be gracious in the face of bad news. If you have to disagree with the news, be respectful. Your issue is likely with the idea and not the person; there’s a difference – you can hold differing opinions without forcing a divide between you and your colleagues.

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Consider where you went wrong

Were your expectations unrealistic? Perhaps you work hard but you aren’t always the most approachable person? Maybe there was a presentation you had to deliver, but you faltered in one or two places?

If so, now is the perfect time to take a step back and note where you think you might’ve gone wrong. Use these missteps as an opportunity to change your thinking and look towards the future. In approaching similar goals, you’ll have the upper hand knowing where you slipped up the first time around.

Say “I can” when you think you can’t

In the face of a challenge, you might find it easier to shy away and say: “I can’t”. Instead, look at this perceived negative as a positive and know you can do it. Tackle the challenge head-on and show you can learn new things on the way. Proving yourself is all a part of progress and that’s when people start to take note.

Avoid dwelling on the problem

Try not to dwell on it for too long if possible. Instead, focus on planning ahead. Be proactive, rather than reactive. Every problem has a solution. They may not always be readily apparent, which makes us likely to lament what we’ve seen as a failure. And that’s OK for a while, but after that time’s up, it’s time to plan a solution.

Use what you’ve learned from this situation to turn it into a positive, so you’re better equipped for next time. Trying another tactic and approaching things from a different angle might give you the advantage when similar circumstances arise.

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Divide the challenge into smaller pieces

If the problem is unavoidable and requires action, then trying to deal with it in one fell swoop may cause problems. Dividing the problem into smaller, more manageable pieces; identify these smaller issues and find their solutions first. As you cross them off your list, you’ll be in a better position to take on the main problem head-on; instead of being distracted by the problem, you’ll be focused on the solutions that have now been identified.

Create positive self-perception

If you’re the kind of person who sets high expectations for themselves, then challenges and defeat may end up weighing heavily on you. Remember, challenges don’t always arise because of outside factors, they may be a result of your own thinking. And while there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with these high expectations, the issue becomes a problem when you’re expecting everything to be perfect first time.

It’s far better to work towards continuous improvement rather than the unrealistic perfection you’ve set for yourself. It’s simply not possible to get everything right the first time; when you make an error don’t be hard on yourself. If you’re naturally inclined to perfectionism, then you’re most probably somebody who works hard. Try re-framing the situation into a positive; while you didn’t get there in the end, you still gave it your best.

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Don’t take things to heart

Following on from the above, it can be easy to take challenges to heart, especially when your own work is so directly involved. But it is important to remain professional, and let any struggles or shortcomings wash off your back. Reacting in an unprofessional manner will only detract from your overall ambition.

You can use a lot of energy by tackling the source of the challenge, rather than the challenge itself. This energy could be more appropriately spent on pro-active, productive efforts, so be sure to distance yourself from this kind of thinking as soon as you can.

Be resilient in the face of adversity

Challenges by their very nature can be tough; overcoming them requires fierce determination and persistence on your part. Use your resolve and stay resilient on the way to new goals and successes. Take stock, plan sufficiently and set a course of action. You’ll face some bumps along the way, but it’s important to remain focused.

Take things a step at a time, you can approach challenges in many different ways, whether it’s solving a problem or learning a lesson. Embrace the challenge rather than shrinking away, the rewards tend to usually be more than worth it.

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Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes

If a challenge was the result of a mistake you made, then admitting the mistake is usually advisable. There’s nothing wrong with taking ownership of your mistakes, especially when it stands in the way of moving past a challenge. It shows that you’re willing to grow and that you’re a person of character. Too often it’s viewed as a weakness, but your honesty will be appreciated by the others in your office when it comes down to it.

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