Vanilla or Chocolate Chip ice-cream? Starting a business or buying a franchise? A margarita or a beer? Hiring candidate A or candidate B? Chicken curry or boneless wings with celery? Hulu or Netflix?
Knowingly or unknowingly, we are constantly making decisions. On an average a person, I’m told, will may make 35,000 decisions a day. Even though many of those decisions have an insignificant or no impact at all, some decisions may carry enormous implications not just for the decision maker, but for the people around us.
From a very young age, we are taught to use all the facts and logic in decision making. We are taught that resolute cases can only be built on facts. But in doing so we overlook a human character in the decision-making. Our emotions.
Every day we live, we add our own experiences and assimilate the experiences from others. With the classic five senses; sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste, we humanoids have no escape from adding experience. These experiences naturally become a part of our emotions. Therefore, the emotions substantially influence our decisions. Some of these emotions will show up as “gut reactions” – emotional instinct.
So, going back to facts and logic, anytime we make decisions purely based on logic, the decisions will be deprived of the “feelings.” In a way, we can say we acted robotically. Let me remind you again – humans are full of emotions. That is why many of these strictly fact-based decisions seem to get it right in the beginning, but soon fail. The fact influenced “logical” negotiators are destined with poor outcomes, even in the simplest arbitrations. How many times can we recall, “I went by the book; I’m not sure what went wrong”.
Unless we are dealing with robots and Vulcans, logic by itself will never get us to the winning line in life. When you take both sides into account you will be surprised by the sustainable outcome. The same goes for emotions. Emotion by itself is also dangerous. Emotions lead to impulsive decisions. That is never good. Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
A buzzword that comes up in decision making is Critical Thinking. In many instances, we are encouraged to think critically when making choices. Unfortunately, and regrettably, in the current norm, critical thinking subverts the emotional aspect of decision making. Critically thinking does not mean logical thinking. The definition of Critical is exercising careful judgement. In “careful judgment” one has to take both the factual and emotional aspects into consideration. I have witnessed critical thinking leading people to take an abundance of caution, because they lean so much on logic, thereby coming up with unsatisfactory results. The key is understanding, knowing that some decisions, emotion will have to carry a larger burden, and in others, the facts will carry a larger burden.
Look at Delta Air Lines’ decision to fly planes during the pandemic. The decision was to fly planes at 60 percent capacity with the middle seat blocked. It is a good, balanced decision; a win-win. The Toastmasters International decision to hold conference online, last year was another instance of balance decision making. The anecdotal story of feeding the hungry man first, and then teaching him how to fish is an example of an emotional and logical approach. When we infuse emotions then, we can rephrase the anecdote. That is a win-win decision.
A good decision-maker considers the macro view for the reason. Here are six steps to make a good decision.
1. Know your Vision- the macro view. Clarity is an absolute necessity.
2. What is the reason for the dilemma?
3. The reason will lead to selectively gathering facts – external and internal, and emotional perspectives.
4. How will the answer to the dilemma benefit the Vision?
5. Ruminate your decision. Listen to any gut feeling.
6. Make your decision.
It is very important to understand that every decision must be accompanied by a Checklist. A Checklist is an action plan that puts the decision into action. Without the Checklist, the decision is inanimate objective.