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Decisive Summary
Self Help & Motivation and Management & Leadership

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: 

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ISBN: 0307956393, 978-0307956392


Our emotions can guide us in life, but not always in the best way, right? Some research shows that our decisions are influenced by our preconceptions and emotions, which often means that our choices are not the best. In this book, the authors explore these issues and introduce some techniques that help in a more balanced decision making. Learn how not to be distracted by your emotions and decide with much more safety and efficiency! Find out how to solve situations by finding the best solutions. Read this title with 12min and learn to base your decisions on concrete and logical parameters!

Consider all possible alternatives

Unfortunately, most of us are involved in situations that prevent us from making good decisions. If we have to make a choice, we use the old "all or nothing" approach. For example, if we have questions about our relationship, we usually begin to consider whether or not we should end up with our partner. Our thinking process does not allow us to think of alternatives and we end up getting caught up in only two possible conclusions (the all or nothing).

When faced with a decision, one way to avoid this kind of "narrow" thinking is a known technique, called "Leak Testing." The basic approach is to imagine that you can not opt ​​for any of the current possibilities you are considering and should then consider another alternative.

Let's go back to the example of the unhappy relationship. You were thinking about ending your relationship with this person, but you feared the possibility of being alone forever. You also considered keeping the relationship, but that means you are only putting off the inevitable. Now forget those possibilities. What, then, are your alternatives?

You could have an honest conversation with your partner about your feelings. You two could make a list of things that need to change so that you are both happy in the relationship and then work on implementing those changes. You could seek help from a couple of therapists. It will soon become apparent that you have many more options available than you had imagined. Using this approach will help you consider other ideas outside your comfort zone and make better-informed decisions.

You could also implement another technique known as Multitracking. This technique involves considering and testing several options simultaneously. For example, a company may consider marketing proposals from a variety of consultants for its last campaign, conducting tests or conducting consumer surveys to find which one works best. In situations like these, feedback also helps in making decisions.

The "narrow" ways that people use to make decisions make them lose opportunities. So broaden your options, consider several alternatives to make more informed decisions.

Start "playlists"

In the business world, checklists are very implemented. Many of us have repetitive tasks that need to be completed, and a checklist provides us with guidelines to ensure that processes are being followed correctly. They are extremely useful to prevent mistakes being made, but in many situations, there is no right or wrong answer. In such cases, a checklist is unlikely to help because it can generate "narrow" thinking, which, as we have seen previously, undermines the decision-making process.

At such times, a "playlist" becomes much more useful than a checklist. Playlists help in the process of generating ideas. They allow the person to think of a variety of responses, solutions or alternatives, ensuring that all possibilities are considered and evaluated. Thus, playlists allow better decisions to be made.

A playlist is a very simple list of open questions or considerations that are designed to generate new ideas and help people's thought processes. You can adapt this list depending on the situation. So at a business meeting on budget cuts, your playlist might ask,

Can the budget cut be made by delaying expenses?

Are there other sources of potential income that could be considered?

Could the cuts be greater to invest in new opportunities?

These questions will allow a team of employees to consider a range of possibilities, providing stimuli for them to think more deeply about the situation.

Essentially, playlists allow multitasking and can be reused as well as checklists. You can have playlists related to a variety of situations to which you can return whenever you repeat. Over time, this will let you see what works and what does not - which will only lead to even better decision making in the future.

Think About Opposite Ideas

Humans have a natural tendency to seek information that confirms their beliefs and ideas. This biased confirmation is what keeps us from making informed decisions. We only pay attention to the information that supports our beliefs or preferences and ignore anything that is contrary to them. This is not the best way to come to good conclusions.

Imagine you want to buy a new car and have a particular model in mind. You will probably do your research and look at the reviews online, but when you do, you will pay much more attention to the positive comments that justify your pre-existing desire for that particular vehicle. Numerous studies have shown that this happens in some situations. You may think you are considering some options, but the truth is that you have already made your decision and are only looking for something to support your decision.

So what is the solution? A good attitude is to test the reality of your assumptions. Challenge your thought process, compel yourself to consider the opposite of what you believe to be true. Instead of just focusing on the negative aspects, give each possible option a fair try. It may be helpful to ask the question, "For this to be correct, what needs to be true?"

If your CEO discusses buying another company with your team and conveys all the benefits of that decision, there is a good chance that this will happen because of his biased confirmation. So most people would think this is a good fit for the business. Now, try to use the reality check on this assumption: what if you do not buy the company to generate more benefits? Look for data that will convince you. You can look for the failure rate of buying a new business, for the money saved on not buying, and for the problems that arise when making a new purchase. Your team may still decide to buy the new company, but the review process lets you consider the facts to make an informed decision rather than a biased decision.

By gathering information that supports your preconceptions, you are making biased decisions. Challenge your assumptions by considering the opposite of what you are thinking. Reflecting on different perspectives will prevent you from reaching conclusions based on your distorted belief systems and your ideas.

Experiment before making a decision

Another way to remove predisposition in your decision-making is to conduct small experiments that test your theory or hypothesis. You make attempts and then make an informed decision, rather than making a decision based on your thoughts or feelings.

Consider the benefits this approach might have for future college students, for example. A large number of graduates follow completely different careers from their university education. They spend years studying a subject to get to the end of the course and realize that they made the wrong choice.

A college student may think he wants to be a teacher. Annual vacations are appealing and looking after children and teach them can be fun. However, he/she may not have considered that one in five teachers gives up the profession less than a year after finding a job.

This is where a different approach can be beneficial. In this case, the student could have achieved an internship at a school or helped a teacher for a week to see if he or she would enjoy the job. He can then come to a conclusion based on real information, instead of following a guess - and potentially saving money with the university!

It's like conducting a pilot experiment and can also be used to test new business ideas or processes. It can even be used in your personal life. Dating, for example, is basically trying different partners, letting you find out what kind of person you want to relate to. You can also use this approach to help you make decisions about your daily life or work afflictions.

For example, you are tired after attending many work events but are worried about losing some of them as your boss may disapprove of your attitude. Start slow: miss an event here and there, and see what happens. You may start to worry, but you're likely to see that your boss does not mind. When you feel comfortable losing events, you can ease your way to letting go of such an extreme schedule.

When facing a choice, try testing your options. Instead of deciding quickly, move slowly. This will keep you from making a decision and then regret it.

Free from emotional decisions

Letting our immediate emotions interfere with our decisions is a big problem. When people think of the worst decisions they have ever made, they often remember that they were made in times of strong emotions. Feelings of anger, greed, envy or lust exert great power over us, which affects and influences our decision-making.

Extreme examples of this include couples who choose to break up during a heated discussion or someone who resigns their job shortly after a poor performance appraisal. This is why many people suggest that you "cool your head" before making a decision. Especially, of course, if this decision is of great importance in your life. Cooling your head gives you time for your intense emotions to slow down a bit, hoping that you can see the situation better.

Unfortunately, you may not always have time to cool your head. Also, it is important to be able to remove your instinctive reaction when making a choice and not letting your emotions influence you too much. Short-term emotions generate short-term thoughts, preventing you from seeing the long-term consequences of your attitudes. To prevent this from happening, try using the 10/10/10 rule developed by Suzy Welch. It involves thinking about your decisions at three different times. Ask yourself how you will feel in 10 minutes, how you will feel in 10 months and how you will feel in 10 years.

This will help you create some perspective to prevent your immediate emotions from influencing you too much. So let's imagine you've been interested in a colleague for many months and find out he's single. Imagine that you met him at a work Christmas party. Your feelings of nervousness and anxiety may prevent you from being invited to a meeting.

Now apply the 10/10/10 rule. Even if the worst case scenario happens and your colleague rejects you, in 10 months you may be in a different relationship. In 10 years, that person may have changed his mind and invited you out - and now you're married and have a baby. As you mentally distance yourself from the situation, you are more likely to make the right choice and overcome your anxiety to start that "complicated" conversation.

It is easy to see how our emotions can influence our decision making, but we can overcome our short-term emotions by using the 10/10/10 rule. This allows us to consider things from another perspective.

End of excess of confidence

You should demonstrate humility if you want to make choices wisely, not knowing what to expect in the future. Often we overconfidence in our decision-making skills. Again, this leads to hasty decisions, regardless of consequences.

When we are confident about something, we do not consider other options. Thus, sometimes the consequences can be harmful. Research has shown that 40% of physicians' diagnoses are wrong, even when the practitioner has complete clarity and certainty about what he is doing. Serious medical mistakes can be made thanks to overconfidence.

To challenge your overconfidence, try to think about the future. Consider the best scenario and the worst case scenario. That way you can reflect on the consequences of your decision. When you consider the two extremes - the very good and the very bad - you are reminded of the reality of the situation and, if necessary, you will think about alternative options or take extra care.

Begin by making an assumption about the decision. This will be your worst case scenario. As negative as it may sound, try to think about the failure of a future decision. For example, imagine that you are creating a website. Consider what would happen if, within a year, your site did not generate traffic. Write the reasons why this may have happened. That way, you can start thinking about it and prevent negative scenarios from happening.

After that, you should then think about your best scenario. So, coming back to your site, imagine that in one year it has been so successful that you are making money from advertising. Now you can consider what led you to success, which will let you make the right choices to ensure that this situation does happen.

We often have too much confidence, which hinders us from seeing any problems that may arise when making decisions. We can make better decisions when we have a variety of possibilities to consider. Create this variety thinking about the best and worst scenarios, and this will help you to succeed in decision making.

Final Notes

Our daily decisions shape our lives, be they insignificant or transforming. However, these decisions are subject to some preconceived ideas, and often we do not think rationally. So it is important to consider how we are being influenced and to learn to beat the decision-making villains by using the techniques and processes that have been exemplified earlier.

Lastly, you should spend time reflecting on whatever choice you make, never ignoring the other possibilities. That's the only way to keep decision makers from foiling your judgment.

12min tip

Did you like the ideas of Chip and Dan Heath? So you can not fail to check out their other success: Sticking Ideas, a bestseller that explains how some ideas get so stuck in our mind.

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