"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." -- Theodore Roosevelt

Effective decision-making is a skill all of us can benefit from, but interestingly enough, not all of us approach or experience this process in the same way.

If you're a manager or business professional, the way you solve problems is highly informed by the choices you examine and the routes you deem best to take. You will find throughout your career that you or your colleagues may make decisions differently: sometimes decisions are made with precision, sometimes with impulse, and--for those who experience extreme pressure when making decisions--other times, not at all.

One recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined this distress that some people experience when going through decision-making. Researchers explored the features of various decision-making styles, namely assessment-oriented decision making and locomotion-oriented decision making.

With the former, individuals may be obsessed with completing things the "proper way," finding the "truth," and will even prefer being "right" than happy.

In contrast, those more in practice with locomotion-oriented decision makers spend less time worrying about the perfect choice. Motivated by change and movement, these individuals are quick to make a decision and take action.

There may be no decision-making style that is necessarily the best. But research suggests, individuals "leaning more toward an assessment-style were more prone to distress when making decisions than those with more locomotion tendencies."

If you experience stress when making decisions, remember that it is possible to modify your orientation towards decision-making. First figure out which decision-making style you lean towards. Then, evaluate the situation you are in: are you required to make a high or low-stakes choice in this moment? Is there a clear line between right and wrong (high-stakes decision), will there be no real significant consequence if the decision is "wrong" (low-stakes decision)?

Finally, adapt your style to fit the situation. Authors of the study found that for everyday decisions (e.g. deciding what shoes to buy or where to go to lunch) locomotion seems to be the better option, while high-stakes situations (e.g. life-altering decisions) may require assessment-oriented decision making.

Published on: Jul 6, 2019
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