Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills

by Patrick Regoniel, PhD

Decision Making Chart
Decision Making Chart (Photo credit: West Virginia Blue)

When you are faced with a decision making situation, how do you go about it? Do you decide right there and then or do you postpone your decision up to some point?

While many experts recommend that a decision made quickly has many advantages, it can also lead to blunders. And many decisions are irreversible, if not leading to unpleasant outcomes. A systematic way should be applied to get the most of your decision.

Certainly, good decisions arise from a good understanding of the decision situation. If you do not fully understand or there is a lot of uncertainty in your mind, numbers can help you improve the outcome of your decision.

How does this technique work? The method is simple. Follow the steps below.

How to Improve Decision Making Skills

Step 1. List the advantages and disadvantages of your decision

Get a sheet of paper, make a two-column layout and write 'Advantages' at the left column and at the right column, the 'Disadvantages.' List down all the advantages and disadvantages you can think of related to your decision.

Step 2. Rate your list of advantages and disadvantages

Rate each advantage or disadvantage you have listed using a 10-point scale ranging from unimportant to very important. If the advantage or disadvantage is unimportant, you may just rate it '1' but if you believe it is a major advantage or disadvantage, you may rate it a maximum of '10' points. If it is neither unimportant nor very important, your rate will be between the extremes.

Step 3. Add all the points

Sum up the points you gave for each advantage or disadvantage of your decision. From the total number of points, you will easily see which column has more points than the other. You may adopt the one with the greater number of points.

If the points are more or less similar, you may retry the steps again without referring to the earlier one. This is called iteration. You may do this three times to confirm your decision.

Evaluating Your Decision

After applying the steps above and arriving at a decision where the advantages are greater than the disadvantages, evaluate your decision by answering the following questions.

1. Is your decision urgently needed?

Do you really need to make that decision? If not, then it is better to give more time to ponder your decision. Uncertainty is reduced with the passing of time. Procrastination can offer more opportunities to clear up issues.

2. Is your decision life changing?

What decisions are life changing? Deciding to marry or changing your job are examples. This involves life-long commitment or giving up an equally important choice so you must seriously think about the consequences of your decision.

3. Who will be affected by your decision?

If the only person who will be affected by the decision is you, then your decision should be quick. If something goes wrong, there is no one to blame but you. If your decision affects others, it will be wise to consult them, too.

Finally, when you have made up your mind, the way to go is to take action. There is no such thing as an ideal decision. Go for it.

For more practical tips on the use of numbers in decision making, browse the statistics category in

Article Source:,_PhD

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