Decision-Making: What’s Your Style?

When you have a big decision to make, what is the first thing you do? Go with your feelings? Gather the facts and analyze the information? Keep putting the decision off and hope an answer will somehow emerge? You may even close your eyes and just pick an answer from among the possibilities. Whatever style you employ, you probably have had those moments when you wish you could find the best decision without going through the agony of having to decide.

People learn to make decisions early in life, and that first pattern you form will probably stay with you.  Your style is a culmination of your biases, reasoning ability, emotions, values and memories. It’s not impossible to modify your style if you don’t like the one you use. Just be aware when you are in a crunch decision-making situation, you might revert to your preferred style.

Focused team of colleagues collaborating and discussing a project on a laptop in an office.

There are five decision-making styles. Which one are you?

Analyzer – You like the facts, and start gathering information to analyze as soon as a decision looms. The drawback is too much information can paralyze your analysis efforts.

Intuitive – You go with your feelings when decision-making. The drawback is wishful thinking or what you want can take precedence over the best decision.

Logical – You gather information and make a decision quickly based on what you have. The drawback is information that does not fit in with your style can be discounted.

Realistic- Like analyzers and logical decision-makers, you like the facts and value outcomes. The drawback is feelings, wishes and hopes are not allowed into the process.

Procrastinator – You may delay a decision, citing more information to come or you need more time for review. The drawback is waiting may force a decision on you and it may not be one you want.

No matter what style you are, you can employ steps that will help you arrive at the best possible solution. Start by determining what the actual goal of the decision is, and then think about the priorities that will impact the decision. You may want to take a cruise at the same time you have a huge project coming up at work. It’s pretty clear what the priority will be! Others may not be so easy to prioritize.

Gather information pertinent to your decision and write your choices down. Writing encodes information into your brain more deeply, so using your phone or computer will not produce the same results. Think about creating a pro and con list. This is where you list the advantages and disadvantages of one decision vs. another. Sometimes the answer will emerge instantly. Other times you may have two balanced lists and have to dig deeper.

A good exercise is to review all the information pertaining to your decision using different decision-making styles from your own. If you are an analyzer, try becoming an intuitive for this purpose. If you are a procrastinator, try the realistic style on for size. Just the act of thinking about a situation differently can help you find the best decision more efficiently.

Another thought to remember is to think about the who, what, and where of your decision. Going back to your work example, if you decide to go on that cruise, will your co-workers have to take on your work? Will the project be delayed or even cancelled if it is not completed on time?

Sometimes you can overanalyze a situation and cause analysis paralysis. You keep analyzing the same information over and over and eventually you can’t make a decision at all. This also ties in with information overload, where you keep gathering more and more information and have so much, it just obstructs the ability to make a decision at all. That’s when you might resort to the wishful thinking or snap decision approach – hoping somehow it will all turn out fine or you will make a decision without doing due diligence and hope for the best. Both are bad ideas.

Good decision-making is a skill anyone can learn to use and adapt to your personal style. No matter how you make decisions, employing thought and structure will ensure you come to the right decision for you.

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