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Are We Decisive or Divisive?

Decisive – How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

by Chip & Dan Heath… review by The Guys… Crib Notes by Ray Silverstein

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Choices and decisions… Are we decisive of divisive? Given that we’re wired to act foolishly sometimes, how can we do better? If we can’t trust our guts, then what can we trust?

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Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his research on the way the people’s decisions depart from the strict rationality assumed by economists.  He said we are quick to jump to conclusion because we give too much weight to the information that’s right in front of us while failing to consider the information that’s just offstage. The authors call this the “searchlight” effect.

When we begin shifting the spotlight from side to side, the situation starts to look very different. In essence, this is the core difficulty of decision making:  What’s in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a good decision; we don’t always remember to shift the light.

This week The Guys talk about the Heaths’ book and processes that both hinder and hasten good decisions. The discipline exhibited by good corporate decision makers—exploring alternative points of view, recognizing uncertainty, searching for evidence that contradicts their beliefs—can help us in our families and friendships as well.  A solid process isn’t just good for business; it’s good for our lives.

Most of us rarely use a “process” for thinking through important decisions.  It’s hard to correct a bias in our mental processes just by being aware of it.  The only decision-making process in wide use is the pros-and-cons list.  This is commonly called the Ben Franklin.  It has its faults, but its advantage is that it’s deliberative.  Research in psychology over the last 40 years has identified a set of biases in our thinking that doom the pros-and-cons model of decision making.

According to the authors, there are four villains of decision making:

  1. Narrow Framing
  2. Confirmation Bias
  3. Short Term Emotion
  4. Over Confidence

The Guys discuss these villains and victors that overcome the variety of choices; decisions are revealed. The nature of each villain suggests a strategy for defeating it that comes in the form of an acronym: WRAP. You’ll have to listen to the show or download the crib notes below to get the meaning and more. The show covers each and offers examples of how to become a victor both in personal and professional environments.

Here’s just one of the examples:

In personal life, therapist Aaron T. Beck, the founder of cognitive behavioral therapy, advises that couples consciously fight the tendency to notice only what’s wrong.  To avoid that trap, he advises couples to keep “marriage diaries” chronicling the things their mates do that please them.  Beck cites research that 70% of couples who kept this kind of marriage diary reported an improvement in their relationship.  “All that had changed was their awareness of what was going on.  As in the marriage situation, our relationships at work are sometimes corrupted by negative assumptions that snowball over time. The same is true in the workplace!

When you assume negative intent, you’re angry.  If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed.

Pick up the Crib Notes from Ray… great synopsis or get the book, just fill in the form or click on the book.

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