Building Concensus: 7 Ways to Avoid Bad Decisions

Deciding between 2 people, is sometimes a wrestling match.

When making a tough decision, I follow the WRAP process, as articulated by Chip and Dan Heath in their book “Decisive.” I LOVE this book, because it helps me gain the confidence to decide about a myriad of difficult circumstances. While I can control the decision making I make on my own, I cannot control the other’s decision making process. Whether a spouse, boss, coworker, respected leader, etc, if I have someone’s attention, I am often painfully aware that they make decisions in a different way than I do. That is, unless I’m with Chip or Dan Heath (I’m guessing).

So, in my own decision making lifetime, here are 7 things I have learned to do in order to avoid making bad decisions.

  1. Run a good self-checkup.
    Are you hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or stressed (HALTS). You aren’t making any good decisions right now. “Oh, I’m fine…I just really want…or I just really feel…” Guess what, you have a lot on your mind below the surface right now. If you are like me, you have a whole host of feelings that float below the surface, and it takes a great deal of humility to say, “shoot, I’m not doing great right now. I need to get some perspective.”
  2. Nip your “fear-of-loss” in the bud.
    Fear of loss is always going to be more potent than opportunity for gain. When you fear loss, write it down in a concrete number / figure. Now place that number right next to the possibility of gain in a concrete number / figure. If your “fear-of-loss” figure feels more potent than the possibility of gain, then take some time in prayer or meditation to come to terms with this particular decision. Practice giving up control of all outcome.
  3. Make time to talk.
    Very little gets decided without concrete time to talk. Be up front and say, “Hey, I see we have a big decision to make, and it’s the most important thing in the world to me that we be unified in our decision. When can we find some uninterrupted time to talk about this?” That signifies it’s importance and the person’s importance to you in this process.
  4. Communicate early and communicate often about the process.
    I know this sounds basic, but communicate to the other that this is on your mind, and it’s really important to make a decision about it.
  5. Ask “How/when/where?” questions.
    These are the are the least emotionally charged we can ask. Ask “how are you planning to decide about this?” “When do you think you will know?” If you receive “I don’t know,” then their emotional circuits are blown. In that case switch to empathy. What can you see in the other person that you recognize. Fear? Stress? Overwhelmed? At least you can say, “Hey, I see that this is a difficult decision for you. Please let me know if you want me to listen to what you are thinking before any need to make a decision.”
  6. Understand the fastest.
    Realize whoever understands the fastest wins. Spend 10x more energy understanding “why” the other would want to make the decision the way they want to make it. Then if you think that they should change their minds, consider what new information they might not be aware of that would trigger them to reconsider.
  7. Write down the decision shortly after you make it.
    This should never be brought out, but write it down so that you have it in your mind clearly. That way, when you look back and say, “I decided this because of this,” you can say so with more peripheral clarity. Often our minds change and we see events in the past differently than we did at the time we made them. It’s called being human.

These tips can help you avoid unhealthy, expensive, resent-building decisions. That will make a much greater difference to you and your professional and personal relationships and you will be known for making decisions with greater integrity.



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