Warning signs of bad decision-making

January 10, 2024 | Jarrod Saxton

Tired exhausted overworked caucasian businessman suffering from headache work load, business problems, decision-making

I’m writing this because witnessing people make poor decisions, ones that could have been avoided, is deeply disheartening.

From heated arguments to falling prey to unethical sales tactics, various influences can steer us towards choices we later regret. My goal is to offer some clarity in these moments.

So, when you find yourself at a crossroads, worrying about the potential of making a bad decision, consider this piece as your guide:

1. The first sign to recognize is a nagging worry that you are at risk of making the wrong decision

In decision-making, emotions, and intuition often get sidelined.

However, feelings of unease can be important indicators. Emotions such as fear and anxiety might suggest that the decision at hand is significant, or that it carries potential risks and negative consequences.

Common advice often dismisses these feelings as mere mental distractions or ‘paralysis by analysis,’ urging us to make any decision just to keep moving forward. This approach overlooks the fact that our fears and anxieties can be grounded in very real, valid concerns.

By exploring these emotions and turning them into clearly articulated descriptions, we can gain new and insightful perspectives we were previously unconscious of.

2. Another warning sign is feeling pressured by social expectations

Whenever you’re compelled to make a decision influenced by what others expect of you, it becomes challenging to think independently and choose for yourself.

These pressures can arise in various scenarios, such as being on a sales call or choosing a university major under the influence of parental expectations. The burden of conforming to others’ expectations can significantly impair your decision-making ability. Such decisions often always lead to buyer’s remorse or resentment towards those who helped influence the decision. It is a nightmare for everyone involved. If you are the decision maker, try and do your own thinking and arrive at a conclusion first before consulting others.

And if you want to help others make good decisions, don’t decide for them, but instead show them how to make good decisions themselves (such as learning our BBIT tools).

3. The final sign is being under time pressure

A key element of sound decision-making is having enough time.

The more time you allocate to a decision, the better it tends to be. This allows for a thorough collection and processing of information, enabling you to consider all relevant factors, including recent developments that might impact your decision. For instance, during the sale of your house, an extra half-day of deliberation could potentially allow another offer to come in and increase the sale price by $30,000… $30,000 in half a day isn’t too bad.

The more time you take away from the decision, the more it becomes like rolling a dice.

So what can we do in these situations?

Several years ago, I recall a memorable presentation by Tainui Group Holdings at my university. As a commercial entity, their role is to protect and grow the commercial assets of Māori Iwi, with a portfolio valued at $1.65 billion. One particular comment they made about decision-making has stayed with me ever since.

They pointed out that while most organizations consider long-term thinking to range between 10 and 30 years, for them, it extends to over 100 years. They said they have all the time in the world to make a decision, and when pressured to decide quickly, they simply pass up the opportunity; they won’t be hurried into a decision under any circumstances.

I deeply admire this approach and believe it’s a mindset we could all benefit from adopting. So, the next time you find yourself feeling uneasy, influenced by others, or rushed in making a decision, take a moment to sit back, relax, and gain clarity on the situation.

On a related note, our BBIT Foundations course cohorts will resume next year. I’ll give you ample time over the Christmas break to consider whether it’s the right fit for you 😉