We all live with a certain amount of stress caused by having to make decisions in an increasingly complex world. Too little time, insufficient data, and shifting priorities all contribute to our reliance on decision-making shortcuts called heuristics. These shortcuts – rules of thumb, educated guess, modeling, common sense — are actually overlearned ways of choosing and using information. Shortcuts like these and others allow us to make quick decisions. However, what is gained in terms of speed may cause accuracy to be off the mark.
When quick decisions are required, it’s good to ask a few questions to test your preferred shortcut. Consider asking these questions:
- Which data confirm your beliefs?
- Have you looked for facts that don’t support your point of view?
- What else would I like to know?
- How might my current emotional state be influencing this decision?
We’re all guilty of looking for and using shortcuts. However, when you do have time before choosing based on your gut reaction, you might first ask “how well do I know myself?”.
Speaking of overlearned shortcuts – try Googling “how well do I know myself”.