All through our lives we have to take decisions, whether at a personal or professional level. Some of them are of minor importance, but many can be “life-changing”. Some people do not find a problem in taking decisions whilst others are terrified at the thought. The following may offer some help in reducing the stress of decision taking.
Many books have been written about the subject, but many “gurus” just seem to complicate matters through their complex processes which may be very time consuming. An important factor of course is time, as usually taking a decision sometimes has to be quick, thus imposing additional stress on the decision maker.
A typical interview question in a recruitment process is “What decisions do you find the hardest to take?” From a professional viewpoint most would answer that the ones which affect other people such as having to fire someone. But not everyone will have to face that situation unless they are a manager/supervisor. Most importantly in this situation it is reasonably safe to assume that there is a strong objective reason for doing so and that it is not a whim (capricho) so the reason can be effectively explained based on facts such as discipline or moral or financial misdemeanours. But what about the other really difficult decisions and which ones are sometimes the easiest? So let’s go lower down the managerial ladder and think of day-to-day decisions that affect your work or your personal circumstances.
Maybe an example will help. Let’s suppose you are approached concerning a change of job in your present company or to move to another company. How do you decide what to do? Don’t forget that maybe your possible move could affect your “family unit” or your partner’s lifestyle, especially if it means a change of geographical location. The well-known Spanish saying of “Mas vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer” is
often used but unless we take certain risks we will not progress.
Similarly on the personal side, how do you decide if you want to live with your partner in a civil relationship or get married? Strange as it might seem, living together for a period of time is an exercise on gathering information!
In simple terms decisions have to be based on the maximum information in the shortest time possible – the more information you have about a situation the easier it is. The less you have the harder and riskier the decision. There is no doubt that the easiest decisions are those where you have a lot of information at that point in time. With solid data, it is also easier to evaluate options or alternatves and evaluate
And that is the key – based on that point in time. You should never regret any decisión you took as it was related to the information you had. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it is not a tool we have access to in the present, it’s a tool we have in the future when taking decisions and certainly will help us in terms of experience. It’s not a bad idea to write down and keep in a safe place the decisions you have taken and keep
them archived for the future. Never be afraid to consult with others if you can, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Additionally, always try not to let your emotions (or those of others) interfere too much with the course of action you wish to take.
And one final point. In all organisations there are some people who I call “political animals” who are very ambitious and do everything possible to protect themselves. In some cases you could call them “social climbers” (trepadores). Their theory is that if in a company you make ten decisions and nine are good and one bad, maybe people will remember you for the one bad one. So what do they do? They avoid making any decisions at all so they will not be remembered for the bad one. These people should be avoided at all costs, they are toxic.
So there’s a very brief guide to decision making. Good luck with those you have to make! And remember don’t be frightened of consulting with others if you can