Are You Happy with Your Decision Making Skills?

Are You Happy With Your Decision Making Skills?

Arguably one of the greatest skills a person can have is to make effective decisions. It has direct links with problem solving and we look for it in Managers and Sales People and in ourselves in day-to-day life; we are all faced with having to make decisions, from what type of socks to wear through to whether we want to be in or out of Europe. Making a list of pros and cons, or sticking pins blindly into lists, or even tossing a coin can help us make these decisions. Therefore the root of any decision has to be the element of choice, heads or tails, here or there and without choice, a decision cannot be made. Some people may claim that they have made a decision based on the fact that they were left with no choice. Some would argue that they still have a choice as to whether to make that choice or not, however limiting the option might be.

There is a terrific clip in the film Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer that illustrates how choice plays a part. Click on the link and have a look. People like having a choice in things it gives them a sense of confidence, and also control, as the choice they make is then theirs and theirs alone.

Or is it?

Decision-making can heavily influenced or be held up when certain factors come into play.

  • Bringing in too many other people only muddies the water, especially when people offer opinions they believe to be factual but actually aren’t.
  • When people do not have enough evidence or information on a subject they could be flying blind and make poor decisions.
  • Sometimes there can be a glut of information making things very difficult and could result in a freeze up and over thinking of a subject.
  • If there is too much time in the form of a long deadline then there is a danger things will be put off, too little time and not enough consideration will be used.
  • Stakeholders or joint decision makers can really hold things up, therefore it is important that authority is given to actually make the decision. Stakeholders can be very disruptive and bring in their emotions, gut instinct and experience and this can cause problems. Once the authority has been sought and given, the stakeholder needs to back away.

Some people find it very difficult to make decisions, so they choose to either defer to someone else’s judgement or sit on the fence. This latter option is not ideal, yet we often see the ‘fence’ option displayed, for example in questionnaires you might be faced with scoring something out of 10, so the easy option is a 5. Neither one way or other.

So how do we make decisions?

Gut Instinct or Intuition – People are often guided by gut instinct, intuition or even an inner voice that guides their decision making, and this is usually driven by their own experience of having done something similar before. So the greater the experience the greater the chance this instinct could be right. Their own personal values and beliefs play a role too and this can often result in limited choices if the person has had limited experience or a limiting belief, even more so when it comes to their own personal confidence or self assurance. The more secure some feels about something the greater the chance of the right decision being made. Reduce the experience and the confidence and it is here you see decisions being made that ‘keep us on the safe side’ or ‘we did not want to risk it just yet’. Get the right balance and another magical ingredient comes into play; trust. More importantly ‘self trust’. As this develops, we here phrases like “in my experience that would be a mistake” or “having been through something like this before I can tell you that it will definitely work”.

Facts and Evidence – What is actually going on. The real tangible evidence that people can see, hear and touch and makes the process of decision making more black and white. This allows us to ignore incidentals like emotion, which could drive an urge or impulse to decide quickly. We often hear decisions made by emotion alone described as ‘judgement calls’ and they can be right, but stripping back some of the padding around the choices we have in decision making, gives people the chance to see more clearly and come up with a much more considered approach to making a decision. It is useful in decision making to use this ‘reasoning’ based approach first and then bring in the ‘intuitive’ side. So gather as much evidence as you can on the subject, and then ask yourself “How does that feel?” “What would that look like?” “Does that make sense and if so, what could we expect in the long term?”

Making a commitment to a decision and standing firmly behind it is a sign of strength and applying a combination of Intuition and Fact will result in effective decision-making. This approach is important when people are challenged on how they actually went about making the decision. By having these two tools to hand their responses to the question are less defensive and demonstrates clear observation rather than snap judgement together with an effective response over the emotional reaction. Thanks for reading.

This blog forms part of the personal development coaching and Management training offered by Simon Hares at SerialTrainer7 Ltd. If you would like more information please get in touch by calling 07979 537824 or email

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