Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Make Decisions Under Pressure

Posted by Neill Abayon

You’re often forced to make your most important decisions under pressure. Whether that pressure is caused by a lack of time, emotional duress, or something else entirely, it’s hardly the best state in which to make reliable decisions.

You can never eliminate all the bias that comes from emotions and circumstances, but you can minimize that bias through the use of a reliable process and make the most of a bad situation. Here’s how:

1. Know the Situation

Knowledge is power. The better you understand the decision and all that it entails, the more likely you are to make a good decision. Study the relevant material until you’re intimate with it. Employ various research techniques. You want to know the big picture, and you want to know the fine print. Leave no stone unturned.

2. Know the Outcomes

There’s no way you can know the future, but the knowledge you have gathered will help you to get closer to it. Make the best prediction you can as to the outcome of the various options you have at your disposal. What are the short-term effects? What are the long-term effects?

3. Consult with the Objective

Talk to objective people (people who aren’t your friends) who are experts or knowledgeable in the area you need to make a decision in. Objective experts can look at your situation, and without emotional attachment to you, give advice on the best course of action.

4. Commit

If you’ve followed a sound process for determining the best course of action, and the advice you have obtained is sound advice, the best course of action should be clear by now. That doesn’t mean it’s the easiest course of action -- the best one rarely is the easiest. Be sure when you make your final decision, and commit to it. Start implementing it as soon as your situation allows, because once you’ve made the first steps it’s harder to fall back into indecision.

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