Water Well Journal

February 2021

Water Well Journal

Issue link: https://read.dmtmag.com/i/1330849

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Page 37 of 59

D ecision paralysis is a real challenge for many businesses as we start to come out of the pandemic. There is still much uncertainty and navigating it can be as difficult as tasks for first-time contestants on The Amazing Race. As business leaders, it may be where, what, and unfor- tunately, who to cut to conserve operational costs. Or what investments to make, what markets to go after, and how to differentiate from competitors. Many managers are also struggling to decide how to mo- tivate their teams and get them to focus through their own survivor's guilt of still being on the job when some of their co-workers are gone. Others are still trying to figure out which techniques and tactics are best, while at the same time trying to efficiently work and manage remotely. And as sellers or customer-facing service technicians, deciding what to do and say to help customers make a decision that is in their best interest can feel like an hourly struggle when you are being pulled in so many different directions. Where Does Paralysis Come From? Why does decision paralysis seem to strike at times when the one thing we need to do is make intelligent and speedy decisions? One reason is because uncertainty causes fear, irrational thinking, a need for perfection, and therefore lots of anxiety. With too many options and no way to tell which is best, the anxiety of needing to make a choice now without knowing what the future looks like combined with a fear of failure can lead to cognitive overload. It can make you look like a contestant staring at a clue and having no idea what it means—though it is obvious to all of us watching at home. And when we feel overwhelmed, we often end up opting to "wait and see what happens" while we binge-watch The Amazing Race or MythBusters on Netflix. (How else do you think I came up with this metaphor?) If you haven't been through it before, that lack of exposure or practice to making decisions in uncertainty is even more difficult due to what cognitive research calls "case-based rea- soning." This basically means we solve problems by recalling past experiences or reference points to make what we feel is the right decision. The "unknown unknowns" of what a good future looks like leaves us like a deer in the headlights in the middle of the road with everyone around us screaming, "Get out of the road!" Pushing Past Paralysis So how do we push past the paralysis so we can do some- thing? There are three key components to consider helping counter these cognitive biases: • Your mindset about what to do • Confidence in your abilities to make good decisions • Taking action on those decisions. First is the mindset about what to do. With too many options, we become overwhelmed. To overcome this over- whelmed mindset, we need to structure and limit the options we consider. Structure can be ranking options on a scale like a list of pros and cons. In addition to limiting and structuring options, we also need to make sure these options resonate with our values and how we identify ourselves. Not only will it make it easier to decide between options, but it will also make it more likely that we will actually do the thing we decide on. Once you have some idea on what your options are, it's time to reinforce your perceived ability to select and follow through on a good decision. How many times have you had an idea on what to do, but your lack of confidence in your ability to make good decisions has stopped you? Maybe you've made mistakes before—like the rest of humanity I might add—and that is stopping you from making a decision now. To help counter this bias, look for social proof of your deci- sion. By looking at examples of what others have done, it can re- inforce the idea that you are making the right decision. If no one has done it before, reflect on a time when you have done some- thing you have never done before and still came out just fine. UNBOUND SALES GROWTH WHAT THE AMAZING RACE CAN TEACH US ABOUT DECISION MAKING The inability to make decisions in difficult times is a real thing; here's how to work through it. waterwelljournal.com 36 n February 2021 WWJ CAROLE MAHONEY Deciding what to do and say to help customers make a decision that is in their best interest can feel like an hourly struggle when you are being pulled in so many different directions.

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