One of the critical things about making a decision is to have enough information to make a proper judgement. To do this a person needs to be able to identify the gaps in their knowledge, to fill them, and then to come to a sensible conclusion.
Someone who does not see that there are gaps, or who jumps to a conclusion with too little (or inaccurate) information can blindly make decisions without realising what is missing or unclear. What this amounts to is that for judgement and decision making there are four basic types of people:
Over-confident: This is someone who has high confidence in their judgements even when their thinking is faulty. They believe that it’s better to make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one!
Development point: The positive side is that over-confident people take the initiative and get on with life. However they do need to ‘take five’ and learn to recognise when more information is needed. It’s all about thinking before acting!
Animal: The over-confident person is like a Cobra – quick and decisive, but not always hitting the right target.
Under-confident: This is the sort of person who generally has no confidence in their judgement and decision making, even when they’re right. They often find it difficult to get ‘off-the-fence’ because they believe they’re going to jump the wrong way.
Development point: The positive side is not ending up in tricky situations just because they haven’t thought things through properly. However this may end up in no action at all; so to move on someone needs to force themselves to make decisions in low-risk situations, just to recognise that the sky doesn’t necessarily always fall in!
Animal: The under-confident person is like a Gazelle – bouncing around trying to decide what to do, and never quite making their mind up.
Accurate: This is the sort of character who reads situations with confidence, and knows when they’re getting things right or wrong. They have the savvy to check the signs and know if they are taking a risk.
Development point: This person is on the button and has got decision making pretty well organised.
Animal: The accurate person is like a Fox – weighing up the situation, balancing the risks, and picking their battles.
Inaccurate: This is someone who charges at things and gets most decisions the wrong way round. They are not confident when they’re getting things right, and over-confident when they’re getting stuff wrong.
Development point: The good news is that this person wants to do things, it’s just that they have a habit of getting everything upside down. A bit like the Cobra this person really needs to think before acting, in fact they need to think, and think again before acting!
Animal: The inaccurate person is like a Bull – enthusiastically charging backwards and forwards, but tending to put their foot in it.
What sort of an animal are you?
1. How do you feel when you have to make a snap decision?
A Energised – It’s better to make a decision than no decision at all
B Decidedly queasy – I don’t like having to make a decision
C Confident – I’m pretty good at weighing things up quickly
D Resigned – I’m famous for making the wrong decision.
2. When deciding between a number of options, do you…
A Pick one and stick with it, even if it turns out not to be the best
B Want more and more information (you can never have too much)
C Dispassionately check out the options and move on
D Home in on the wrong one like a guided missile?
3. If you haven’t got enough information, how do you decide what to do?
A Gut instinct
B I can’t decide (you just said there isn’t enough information!)
C Go with what I calculate is the best bet
D Pick anything – it’ll all go pear shaped anyway.
4. You’re going to make an expensive purchase in a shop, do you…
A Just go in and buy it
B Come over all uncertain
C Check that it’s what you want, and then buy it
D Feel like you’re about to make another costly mistake?
5. It all goes horribly wrong, what do you do next time?
A Exactly the same!
B Nothing (there isn’t going to be a next time)
C Better research
D Take a lucky rabbit’s foot.
6. What’s happening in your head when making a really BIG decision?
A Surprisingly little
B A Headache
C A meticulous balancing of the pros and cons
D A feeling of déjà vu (and not a pleasant one!)
7. You have a number of things to do, how do you decide where to begin?
A First on the list
B Definitely look at the list, but it won’t be nearly long enough
C The most important thing on the list
D Gave up using lists years ago.
8. How would your best friend describe your judgement?
A Shoots wildly from the hip
B Never gets his gun out
C Hits the target, every time
D Judgement, what judgement?
Mostly A = Over-confident (Cobra)
Mostly B = Under-confident (Gazelle)
Mostly C = Accurate (Fox)
Mostly D = Inaccurate (Bull)
Note: This is a fun questionnaire! However it is based on sound research and I wrote it for a magazine a couple of years ago.