Tip 1: Recognise your gut feel, then put it aside for the moment
Decision making is key in every area of life and particularly now when business confidence and certainty is low.
I’ve asked Trent Moy, Director of Halide to write this guest blog series that I’ll share over 5 weeks (this gives you time to implement and try each decision making tip). Trent specialises in decision making and leadership skills and advises on ethics across all business groups.
This series will enable you to make better decisions – for your business, for your family and for yourself. I worked with Trent over 20 years ago and credit him for establishing my strategic decision making abilities. His tips have certainly helped me.
Making a good decision sounds simple – you evaluate the problem, think of all the possible options and then pick the best option… and do it. But as we know that’s harder than it looks.
Tip 1, Week 1: Recognise your gut-feel… then put it aside for the moment
When we are faced with decision making, most of us have a gut-feel or intuition about what to do. Part of what we call ‘gut-feel’ is based on experience – we recognise prior patterns and remember what has worked and what has not. It’s like our brain takes a shortcut and avoids over-analysing all the possible choices.
That’s handy when the risk of making a ‘bad’ decision is low, such as choosing a parking space that is in front of you or continuing to drive around looking for a better spot. But we also use it when the risk is high: Is that wire live? Can I trust that person? Should I go and see the doctor about that chest pain? Is now the time to borrow more money?
Gut-feel is handy but good decision making requires more than just gut-feel:
- Firstly, we tend to remember when we got it right and forget when we got it wrong. It’s a bit like remembering your wins and forgetting your losses. I am responsible for my wins, but other people or things are to blame for losses. We like to think we are smarter than we really are.
- Secondly, gut-feel is easily influenced by our emotional ‘reading’ of a situation. Is someone being a smart-arse or are they trying to help? Is that deal fair or is someone being ripped off? Do I have time to deal with this now? I have too much going on – I’ll make this decision later.
- Finally, gut-feel is a shortcut. Research into human thinking indicates that in a world where there is a pressure to make quick decisions and work fast, we use those shortcuts too often. There are many situations where we need to slow down our thinking, perhaps talk to other people, and make a more balanced decision.
So, gut feel is useful and it is hard to make it go away. But it can also lead us astray.
Here’s a tip: When faced with important decision making, write down or make a quick voice recording of your gut feel… and then put it aside while you think about it a bit more carefully. Doing this allows your brain to acknowledge your gut feel as an important part of making a decision. It gives your brain permission or freedom to explore other options. You can also do this when a group of people need to agree on a decision – get everybody to write down their gut-feel – before giving themselves permission to think of some other possibilities.
Want more info on gut-feel and decision making in business or life, contact Halide, email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. Better decision making can lead to a better business and marketing strategy.
For more great decision making tips, stay tuned for Tip 2 next week.
About Trent Moy
Trent Moy, the founding Principal of Halide is a business consultant that specialises in decision making and leadership skills. He is an independent adviser on ethics and on how businesses can achieve better social and environmental outcomes. Trent has over 25 years of expertise in senior management roles, ethics and building motivating cultures.