4 decision-making mistakes and how to avoid them

4 decision-making mistakes and how to avoid them

Let's examine four key mistakes individuals make when making important business and personal decisions – and how you can steer clear of them

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August 08, 2019

3. Not anticipating emotions before decision-making

Empathy plays a key role in the decision-making process.

Every decision results in direct and indirect consequences. Emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of this and can acknowledge how final decisions may personally affect themselves, their team, and their company. Decision-makers who understand the emotions of others may utilize that perceptivity to prevent the potential for negative outcomes by addressing those emotional issues before making a decision. Sometimes, however, leaders (and humans in general) make decisions based on ego and for personal gains without giving thought to how these outcomes will affect others involved in the situation.

Why this is a decision-making mistake:

Failing to recognize the consequences of your decisions and how they might affect others involved leads to making decisions that at first seem right but in the long run play out badly. Weighing the consequences and anticipating outcomes is an important part of decision making.

How to avoid it:

Growing self-awareness and empathy automatically shifts the dynamic of any interaction and plays a key role in the decision-making process. Good decision-making involves an ability to be intentional about acts that are in line with priorities and values. Individuals and companies who use a mindful, values-based approach can remain calm, adjust and adapt to the situation at hand, and move decisively towards their end goal.

4. Narrowly framing a decision

Many individuals see a choice in binary terms; a decision needs to be made between option A or option B. But what about option C or D? When confronted with a decision, we as humans have the tendency to only look at the options immediately presented to us, and therefore miss potentially better options.

This is what is known as narrow framing. When considering a decision, the mind gives disproportionate weight to the first information it receives. For example, initial impressions, estimates, or preconceived thoughts and judgments that hinder our ability to see beyond what’s in front of us. In business, how leaders chose to frame a problem when making a decision can greatly impact the outcome.

Why is this a decision-making mistake:

A narrowly framed problem can undermine even the most thought out decision. Setting out to solve a problem and defining your choices narrowly causes leaders to overlook the best options and lose sight of important objectives.

How to avoid it:

In an attempt to avoid narrow framing it’s important for leaders to widen their options. Instead of looking at options as a choice between one or the other, train yourself to think outside of the box. For example, if you are only presented with options A and B, imagine that those options don’t exist. What other solutions are possible? By discovering new options in this way, you get less invested in what you already know and allow yourself the possibility to change your preconceived opinion.

Which decision-making mistake have you made?

While we all want to believe that we make our decisions based on logic and sound thinking, the reality is that we’ve all fallen into one of the mistakes mentioned above.

By being aware of what these mistakes are, leaders can identify where they need to focus their efforts in further developing their decision-making skills. By implementing some of the tactics mentioned above leaders and individuals alike will find themselves one step closer to being the logical decision-makers they aspire to be.

[ Leaders, do you want to give your team a greater sense of urgency? Get our free resource: Fast Start Guide: Creating a sense of urgency, with John Kotter. ]

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