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Times of trouble, such as recessions, are a good time for introspection, both in business and in life. Even if your business is still experiencing a slump after the recession, you could come out ahead of the competition in the long run if you use this time wisely to encourage employee introspection and career development through such tools as online personality tests.

Employees can work on emphasizing their strengths and turning their weaknesses around through the information they get from online personality tests. As a result, employees can use these uncertain times wisely to improve their personal effectiveness and improve the competitive advantage of their company simultaneously.

Of course, personal effectiveness is not the only thing that employees can learn from the customized results of online personality tests. Personality tests can give employees such important information as their personality traits and their common tendencies in interacting with other people. Sometimes one of the biggest things that employees need to work on to strengthen their personal effectiveness and their value to the company is simply how they interact with other people.

It is a well-known fact, as frustrating as it may be, that we cannot change other people. Instead, when we are interacting with co-workers, and especially dealing with difficult people, the only thing we can really do is change our own perceptions of and reactions to the difficult situation. Online personality tests can help employees to make such attitude shifts that will help improve their stress in the short term and their job performance in the long term.

One way to improve our perceptions of difficult situations and hence our responses to them is to examine the lens we are using to view the world. According to Tony Schwartz, “Each of us has a default lens through which we see the world. We call it reality, but in fact it’s a selective filter. We have the power, to view the world through other lenses.”

Schwartz recommends using one of three different lenses to view the world or to view sticky situations in a different light:

1. Realistic Optimism

Instead of simply feeling victimized by circumstances, Schwartz suggests assessing the facts of the situation, assessing your response to those facts, and then crafting an optimistic viewpoint that honors the existing facts but reframes the current situation in a more positive light.

In his words:

Realistic optimism, a term coined by the psychologist Sandra Schneider, means telling yourself the most hopeful and empowering story about a given circumstance without subverting the facts. It’s about moving beyond your default reaction to feeling under attack, and exploring whether there is an alternative way of viewing the situation that would ultimately serve you better. 

2. The Reverse Lens

Schwartz believes that even employees who are dealing with difficult people would benefit from trying to see the situation from someone else’s perspective in order to respond in a more positive, or at least neutral, way to a difficult situation.

As he says:

This lens requires viewing the world through the lens of the person who triggered you. It doesn’t mean sacrificing your own point of view but rather widening your perspective.

3. The Long Lens

When all else fails, Schwartz feels that the best move is to try to see beyond the immediate problem to contemplate how a given situation might have positive outcomes in the long run, even if it is hard to see those possibilities in the present.

Schwartz explains:

When your current circumstances are incontrovertibly bad, the long lens provides a way of looking beyond the present to imagine a better future. Begin with this question: “Regardless of how I feel about what’s happening right now, how can I grow and learn from this experience?”

Tony Schwartz’s ideas about how employees can better respond to difficult situations at work are just a small sample of ways in which employees could learn more about their own personalities and shift their responses to be more effective in the long run.

The Competitive Advantage of Online Personality Tests

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