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4 Ways to Improve Quick Thinking Skills for the Public Sector

How many times have you been in a situation where you’ve been put on the spot during a meeting, at a work event or even in your personal life?

For many professionals, the thought of having to remain composed under pressure and react quickly is a daunting prospect.

Two employees learning 4 ways to improve quick thinking skills for the public sector

The ability to think on your feet and respond effectively to quick-fire questions is an invaluable skill for building credibility in the workplace and beyond.

Quick Thinking is an emerging communication skill that more and more professionals are discovering to help them get ahead in their career and handle difficult situations on the spot.

What is Quick Thinking and Why is it a Valuable Skill to Have in the Workplace?

Quick Thinking is about how we deal with situations where we know what we want to say, or what we need to say, but can’t find the right words or put our thoughts together clearly enough to make an impact.  The point is that when we are relaxed (e.g. at home), most of us find this easy.  But in situations where we feel under pressure or on the back foot, this becomes more difficult.

At work, this tends to hold people back.  They end up saying ‘yes’ to things when ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ would probably have made more sense, or not explaining things properly – particularly to managers – because they feel backed into a corner, or under pressure in a meeting.

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How is Quick Thinking a Trainable Skill Rather Than a Natural Ability?

It’s like a muscle. The more we practice the tools and techniques, the easier it becomes.  Also, most people can do this naturally when they are relaxed, so on the course we look at  how to deal with stressful situations whilst staying in charge emotionally. Sometimes it’s also about understanding why the situation is so stressful, and we look at this too.

Some people do have this as a natural ability, and others have to develop it. Or we have the ability as children, but lose it along the way.  Also, some of us are naturally more introverted, but have great ideas and need to find ways of communicating them in environments where there are a lot of louder and more assertive people.

4 Ways to Improve Quick Thinking Skills for the Public Sector

1. Make fast small decisions

No one expects you to make big, important decisions with the click of a finger, but in order to think faster and respond with greater efficiency, try to make minor decisions quicker.

Take what you eat for lunch for example. This is an important decision but deciding to eat a sandwich, pasta or a salad will not have a large impact on your week or future decisions. This means, even if the decision you choose isn't the best, the consequences are small. 

Want to be more confident when speaking in public or in team meetings? Here's 5 ways you can do it

2. Stop trying to answer everything at once 

You might be a master multitasker, but our brains are actually most effective when focusing on one thing at a time. Our brain is always thinking or trying to manage multiple tasks, so why not make it easier for yourself by prioritising one task at a time until it is complete. This will help you respond with more accuracy and focus, giving those you are advising or talking to a clearer view on your opinion or decision.

If you're trying to make quick decisions on the spot, try to work through the decision-making process as quickly as possible. Try to cut through the details and focus on the key aspects of that are important in your final decision.

3. Know your areas of competence or expertise

You're not always going to know the answer to every question that comes your way. "I don't know" is an acceptable answer if you've been asked something that doesn't fall into your knowledge. But, by ensuring your confident in the areas you focus and spend the most time on, you'll be better at answering questions quickly and effectively. 

Want to learn how to effectively think on your feet under pressure? Read our blog post to find out

4. Maintain greater awareness

When we become more aware of the events around us, we're teaching our brain to be more perceptive. When you are more perceptive, you'll be able to assess upcoming events before they happen and come up with a variety of solutions. This is a highly effective and useful skill to master, especially as a manager or leader of multiple employees or teams. 

Having greater awareness will allow you to give more valuable feedback in conversations or provide assistance in a situation. This can help take the pressure off because you're spending less time pondering decisions and more time being aware and trusting your instincts. 

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