There is making a decision and then there is making a so-called ‘informed’ decision. But what is really an ‘informed’ decision?
First, I think it’s important to note that ‘informed’ is a relative term. Secondly, it is my view that such a decision is not so much about being ‘informed’ or having information, instead it’s about your capacity to evaluate, substantiate and understand that information; making your decision after adequately weighing the pros and cons.
Truth is, decision-making is process. It is not a small thing, particularly when the consequences can have life-changing effects. Consider decisions like getting married, buying a home, becoming a parent of submitting to a certain religious philosophy. Such decisions have lasting impact. It is therefore critical that you predetermine if you are willing to accept responsibility for the consequences, which most folks often ignore.
Even though consequences follow every decision we make, they tend to be left out of the equation. Look at a couple’s decision to get married, which is life-changing and goes way beyond the emotions of planning the wedding. Within the decision to marry are consequences like the need to adjust behaviour, share finances and make decisions as a couple. For many a couple, these consequential points are often not discussed and soon become major roadblocks in their relationship.
Such a decision requires the sifting through of mountains of information about each other and the other’s capacity to handle the underlying consequences.
Decisions that result in such lasting changes have an indelible influence on your life as a whole, but on your emotions in particular. Oddly, people seldom pay attention to the incredible role of their emotions when it comes to decision-making, yet they play a significant part of this process.
Even the information being considered has an emotional value. In most instances it flows from the emotions of the person or group providing the information. Their emotional state can directly influence how the information is received and the decision you make.
Of course the art of emotional communication to sway people’s decisions is an old but very effective strategy. It is for this reason that you must take responsibility to do more than just get information. Go beyond the emotions to analyse and make sense of the information for yourself. Failure to do so means your decisions can become emotionally hijacked by whosoever. Take the time to think critically about the details in order to make the decision that best serves your intentions.
Even though this process may sound as simple as pie, the vast majority of people are simply ill equipped to scrutinise information in this way. Consequently, they unknowingly fall prey to the unbridled emotional agendas of the messenger(s). Chief amongst them are media houses and other such entities. They are in the business of information selling/telling and you can rest assured that they are cleverly aware of the high value of people’s emotions.
So much so that without the currency of emotions, the common practice of blatant sensationalism, innuendos and unchecked insinuations will have no real effect. It is against this backdrop that you must find the audacity to wade through rhetoric and overt mumbo jumbo to make an informed decision.
Leader to leader, recognise the power of your personal responsibility. It clearly asserts that you have the ability to respond effectively in meeting the decision-making challenges of your life. Understand that all information must be contextualised, analysed and evaluated for you to strip away any untruths and unfettered emotions before you accept it.
Indeed, living an empowered life lies in your capacity to make informed decisions. Such decisions are made best by creating an empowering rather than disempowering decision-making process. Yes, you can do it. What do you think?
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• Michelle M Miller is a certified life coach, communication and leadership expert. Visit www.michellemmiller.com; mail can be sent to PO Box CB-13060.