How to avoid narrow-framed decision taking?

How to avoid narrow-framed decision taking?

We are often quick to jump to conclusions because we give too much weight to the information that is right in front of us.   When we are making decisions we indeed often focus on a tiny circle of information and we forget there is a broader landscape beyond it.  So the question is: how can we come to a better decision process?

Most of the time people rely on one specific decision-making strategy: they draw a list of pros and cons on a piece of paper and on the basis of that one view, they compare the respective weight of each positive and negative element.  Some call this technique “moral algebra”: step by step, eliminating options on both sides to find ‘the best possible’ solution.  However, narrow framing makes you miss options.  And it’s true: you analyze your options, but the confirmation bias leads you to focus on self-serving information.  So how to make better choices and, consequently, better decisions?

Most of us think of a “decision” as a situation where we must choose among two options.  This thinking should be a classic warning signal that you have not explored all your options.  Don’t forget: when you focus, you sacrifice peripheral vision.  Instead of making “this or that”-decisions, it’s better to widen your options.   So you need to find a way to escape from a narrow view and discover better options.  Let me give an example.  Instead of asking yourself “What is the next travel destination I should choose: South Africa or Iceland?, it may be better to ask yourself “What experience am I looking for and what could be the best destinations to offer me this?”. If you start thinking about the latter one, you have many more options than ever thought possible. 

Consider buying a 1.000€ iPhone or a 700€ Samsung.  What should you choose?  Well, do consider also the so-called opportunity cost: what extra 300€ accessories could you get if you go for the 700€ Samsung.  These accessories may outweigh the importance of having a 1.000€ iPhone.  So you increase your chances to improve your decisions by considering opportunity costs: what are you giving up by making a specific choice? What else could you do with the same money?

Another technique you can use to break out of a narrow frame is this: suppose you have to choose between A and B.  Then don’t do so and just imagine that you simply cannot choose A or B.  Imagine that you are forced to choose from a totally different range of options.  In that case, you are inviting yourself to enter a wider landscape of possibilities.  By comparing more options simultaneously, you get less invested in any one of them and you create space for yourself to change your initial choice. 

All the best with your next decisions!

Latest articles by Filip