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How to Make a Decision Properly: Are We Really Effectively Making Our Decisions?

Decisions are everywhere. Since life itself is composed of choices made every second, the decisions determine the route of our lives. That’s why it is really important for us to know how to make a decision properly and effectively. Both in social and in professional life, our decision-making ability takes us somewhere. Therefore, we need to make a decision that puts our feet on the ground and is fruitful for us and our counterparts. Let’s deep dive into the subject a bit more and start from the very beginning: what happens in our brains when we decide on something.

Decision-Making from a Scientific Perspective

Brain is a complex organ and still keeps its secret in many topics. However, there’s something well-known: the decision-making process is rooted in the communication between the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. The prefrontal cortex is the working memory, and the latter is known as the long-term memory. There are also other parts that integrate into decision-making in many ways, but their mechanism of actions still cannot be explained thoroughly.

Being a cognitive process of human brain, decision-making has some certain stages to go through. The brain tries to control the route by guessing the result of our actions. However, it needs to know the reason to take action. The reason is hidden in the knowledge stored in the hippocampus. By the way, while hippocampus keeps the information, the prefrontal cortex approximates the target. That’s why for a decision to be made, the interaction between these two parts of the brain is essential. The information (the knowledge) is needed for reasoning, and the target is needed for acting.

Learning how to make a good decision can be easy sometimes, and vice versa the next time. It seems like a simple task for us to choose from several options, but a lot is going on in our heads. Several cognitive processes come into play in decision-making, such as the processing of the stimuli, the memory of previous experiences, and the estimation of the possible outcomes of each option. All these processes require the cooperation of the working memory, also known as the prefrontal cortex, and the long-term memory, that is, the hippocampus. However, decision-making is not only rational but also emotional. Since emotions derive from our experiences, they could guide us to a better route while deciding. They simplify and accelerate the process reducing the complexity of the decision at the same time. They have a great influence on multiple cognitive processes like perception, memory encoding, and associative learning. And this means that emotions are key for the activation of a motivational system of behaviors.

To summarize the three stages of the human brain during the decision-making:

  1. Processing of the Stimuli: This is the part when the information is gathered and processed. Our brain tries to collect all the data necessary to make up our minds and process it in several complex ways before we know it. In this way, for mentally healthy people it is possible to take the information for making even the hardest decisions.
  2. Memory of the Past Experiences: Life experiences play an important role in decision-making, including emotions in behaviors. And emotions are as crucial as rationale when it comes to deciding as we also decide with our emotions along with our acumen.
  3. Estimation of Possible Results: The last stage is approximating the outcomes. Remember that knowing how to make the right decision is mostly related to weighing the possible results after finding the suitable alternatives.

Are We Really Effectively Making Our Decisions?

Choosing between possible solutions is explained as decision-making. However, are all our decisions effective? Do we always succeed in persuading our clients or colleagues with our decisions?

Decisions can be made via either an intuitive or reasoned process, or sometimes a combination of these two. Intuition, that is, gut feeling, is generally composed of one’s experiences and personal values. It is worth taking your intuition into account since it reflects your life learning. However, please do not count on it blindly as it is not always based on reality. Your perception of life may have been rooted in childhood and has wrong judgments about many things you go through. That’s why, even if you have an irresistibly strong feeling against a decision, just take a breath and work out why and whether your feeling is justified. That will help you be down to earth while in effective decision-making.

On the other hand, the reasoning is using the facts before your eyes to make effective decisions. However, there’s one thing: reasoning can sometimes ignore emotions. It is mostly built on past experiences, which may affect the way you implement your decisions. That’s why be careful about including both your rationale thinking and emotions when deciding on big ideas.

Also, to make a decision effectively, the speed and quality are among the important metrics. According to a research insights by McKinsey, 57 percent of respondents agree that their organizations consistently make high-quality decisions. About speed, only 48 percent of respondents agree that their organizations make quick decisions. And just 37 percent of respondents say their organizations’ decisions are both high in quality and fast. All this information shows us that the speed is a bigger challenge than quality when deciding on something.

As we can see, many companies should focus on decision-making processes to increase their effectiveness. The research shows that the quality and speed of decision making are both strongly associated with company performance. The faster the decision-making processes are, the faster the execution happens. The same is true of quality. Having high quality ideas can have substantial increases in the returns. That’s how effective decisions are revealed.

Shortly, intuition is perfectly useful when making decisions of simple nature as they can be made quickly. Nevertheless, more complicated decisions require a more formal and structured approach. This means that you also need to use your logic to make big business decisions. Using both logic and gut-feeling can help you overcome problems on the way and make your mind easily. One last thing to remember, you don’t have to be alone to decide! Include others’ to your decision making process, enrich the process with diverse perspectives to make better decisions