Many decisions we make are big ones and some can be life changing So how can we make sure we’re making a good choice?

First of all, there isn’t always a wrong or right answer. Few things in life are black and white. We will all have preconceptions and prejudices that colour our perspective on a situation.

We’ve thought of a few pitfalls to avoid during the decision-making process: 

Sampling and misrepresentation

In 1998, Dr Andrew Wakefield published a study in the Lancet medical journal that identified a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and an increased chance of developing autism. As a result of this ‘finding’, vaccine rates in the UK dropped by as much as 20% over the following decade, leading to outbreaks of all three diseases. 

Having examined a sample of children far too small to base scientific conclusions on, failed to gain ethical approval or relevant qualifications, and taken money from lawyers involved in suing the vaccine companies, Wakefield’s research was disproved, and he was accused of over 30 counts of misconduct and struck from the register by the General Medical Council. 

This example,and the ongoing worldwide debate about misrepresentation of information used in support of political campaigns, highlights the importance of ensuring the validity of the information we use to make decisions. 

Lost in translation

Interpretation of the same information can vary greatly, depending on culture, tone or even the body language with which it is conveyed. For example, in some countries, it would be considered a compliment to remark on how much weight someone has put on, while in western culture, it is seen as terribly rude. It is important that we are familiar with the environment that the decision will impact as this could influence your approach, as well as the intended outcome. 

Jumping to conclusions

The Legend of Llyweyln tells of a Welsh prince who came home to find his dog covered in blood and ran it through with his sword, assuming it had killed his infant son. As the dog lay dying, he heard a cry and discovered the baby alive and well beside the body of a wolf that the dog had slain to protect the child. By making a judgment, and subsequent decision, based on little or no evidence, we can make choices that can be difficult to undo. 

Jumping to conclusions is often described as a cognitive distortion – a process of irrational thinking that forms the basis of many mental health problems and is the primary target of Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT). Rational decision making takes a step-by-step approach to consider relevant information, as well as possible outcomes and alternatives.

Whatever business decision you make, chose wisely. Think you might have made a mistake? Don’t panic, many mistakes are rectifiable. Read our next blog on what to do if you make the wrong decision.

Other articles in this series on decision making can be found HERE.

Performance – Workplace Development offers:

  • Workshops to help raise you team’s self-awareness and identify how their perception may influence the decisions they make.
  • A Problem Solving and Decision Making course

Our Contact Information is below, or use the Contact Menu above. Let’s talk about the challenges your face, and see if we can help.