The Strategist

How to switch emotions off to make a right choice

12/07/2018 - 11:48

Your task is to make the right choice. Intuition and emotions will be your first assistants. If you let them help you, you’ll lose.

Why you cannot trust the intuition
Intuition is the first helper, but also the first enemy of decision making. It helps only in areas that you have a good command.

It works ideally in a well-known environment, where you perform reusable repetitions and quickly get feedback. Intuition will help you in the area where you spent tens of thousands of hours. But forget about it if you make a decision in an unfamiliar area.

Distance before deciding

Every good seller knows that emotions can be a powerful driver. For example, you come to a car dealer. You just study the market and choose between various brands. A good seller will do everything for you to buy a car today. He will give you the opportunity to feel the driver's seat, to smell the new car. He will persuade you to do a test drive and will arrange a show where you will feel that this is an exceptional, limited opportunity to buy a car right now. Such a strategy seems very intrusive, but it really works. The seller disconnects your brain and switches feelings on. And feelings are the enemy of great decisions.

Remember how many impulsive purchases you made in life? When people think about the worst decisions in their life, they say that they were overwhelmed with emotions.

The two most dirty emotions

These emotions are hard to notice. The first, which comes at a time when we have to make a choice, is affection. We tend to choose what we know and what we have seen many times.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their book “Decisive” talk about a fascinating experiment in which psychologists studied reactions of people to their own faces. Experts showed each subject two photos. The first one depicted faces of people as others see them, the second - how they saw themselves. The participants in the experiment chose mirror photographs, while their relatives chose real images. We like the mirror image more than the real face, because we see it more often.

But the emotion of “attachment to familiar” prevents you from making the right decisions because it hides the truth. Not everything that we know is good for us. We get used to many truths. Many of them are true and correct. But some only seem to be true, because we are used to them.

The second emotion that prevents us from making the right choice is the fear of loss. We instantly set ourselves up for losses on an emotional level. This moment is also very difficult to track. Fear of unknown strongly influences decision making.

Give advice to your best friend

The greater the distance between you and the choice, the easier it is to make a decision. Stay away from the problem. 
Usually, when we give advice to others, we act more rationally, wisely and unemotionally. We focus on more important factors, rather than jumping from one variable to another under the influence of our emotions. The next time when you will have to make a choice, think about what would you advise to a friend in this situation?”

Momentary emotions allow us to act quickly when necessary. But more often they make us timid and insecure, drive us into a corner and discourage the desire to act. Defend them, move a few steps away from the problem and act wisely.

Based on “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

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