We are all human and emotions can play a part in any decisions we make. However, emotions can sometimes cause us to make decisions against our own best interests. For example, a pro athlete claims his current team made him an “insulting” offer only to find when he reaches free agency that no other team will pay him nearly as much. In this post I will state some techniques that will help you combat this effect.
One technique to use is to first think about potential “undesired outcomes” of your decision. As an example, think about a time you received a nasty email from a co-worker. Your emotions tell you to lash out and immediately respond in kind. Stop and think: what are the undesired outcomes? You are trading a few seconds of self-satisfaction over your clever response for a damaged relationship and an escalating flame war. Think before acting!
Another technique is to pretend you have made the desired decision. How will you feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 days from now? Ten months from now?
My favorite technique for removing short-term emotion is asking yourself “If this was my best friend confronted with this decision, what would I advise them to do?” This works remarkably well and will help you make cool, logical decisions.
There is also a psychological factor at play in making decisions. It is called “loss aversion”. This is the tendency to feel more pain for losses than joy in gains (many sports fans will tell you that having their team lose always feels worse than the joys of victory). It can prevent you from taking calculated risks that would be in your favor. Be aware when this factor is in play and remove it from the decision making process.
The game show “Deal or No Deal” is a very good way to exercise your own decision making process vs. the on-show contestant. For example, if there were these 3 prizes left: $1, $5, $1 million dollars, and the Banker offered you $200,000, would you take the offer or take your chances and open another case?
You would weigh these two things: (1) the expected payout is about $333,000 (add the 3 prizes and divide by 3); (2) You have only a 33% chance at beating the $200,000 offer. Option 1 is better if you had multiple chances or “do-overs”; Option 2 in this case is a better way to beat the odds if you have only one chance. You would walk away with $200,000 more than when you started, with no regrets even if your case contained the $1 million prize.
In your daily life, take the opportunity to exercise the decision making techniques I have stated above and you will improve your overall outcomes.
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