Volume XXI, Number 30 (Issue 1034) July 24, 2023
How many decisions do you imagine you make in a day? A few dozen? A couple of hundred? A thousand? Several thousand? I looked it up and according to multiple sources, the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Since we should be sleeping six to seven hours a night, that works out to about two thousand decisions per waking hour. Frankly, I find that hard to fathom – especially when you break it down further to then realize it equates to one decision about every 1.8 seconds. Mind blown even if that number is only semi-accurate.
Granted, many of those decisions are reflexive, not to mention inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. However, there is a percentage of the choices you and I make each day that do carry a measure of significance. And not just for ourselves. The more things and people we are responsible for, the more impactful some of our decisions are bound to be. That is not to say that many of our everyday choices do not have weight – they do. Only that when it comes to the possible consequences of a poor decision, the more a decision impacts others, the more important every input becomes. Take one’s experience, expertise, the information on which we base any decision, the quality of our reasoning, and our comfort and willingness to make a decision as a couple of key inputs.
How many people do you know who are only comfortable making a decision when they have gathered a trove of information? Maybe that describes you. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those individuals who seem perfectly willing to make major decisions on the fly with only a modicum of information at hand. In the case of the former, we often fault them for what we deem to be indecisiveness. In the case of the latter, we either stand in awe of them or are scared to death by what we consider to be a near cavalier attitude when it comes to their decisioning. Like nearly everything else, there may be fault with both extremes.
A particular challenge when it comes to effective decision-making is the quality of the data on which many decisions are based. You have heard the expression, garbage in, garbage out. Face it, much of the information we must work with is incomplete if not imperfect. It can also be confusing. Making matters worse, there are a couple of well-known biases that can impact the reliability of the data we use. I am speaking of course about Confirmation Bias and Desirability Bias. Both have plagued a host of researchers, their research, and conclusions. For instance, as recently as last week the President of Stanford University was obliged to resign
when he was accused of playing fast and loose with some research data. It happens even in the loftiest of circles.
But I digress. What I really want us to think about is how often we fall victim to a communication failure. Whether someone else does not speak clearly or one hundred percent truthfully, or whether we misinterpret or misunderstand what they say, miscommunication is the leading cause of conflict. That holds true in every aspect of our lives. Since the spoken word is roughly thirty percent of our communication, it is easy to see how often we might misinterpret other communication elements too including body language, tone, gestures, facial expressions, and what have you.
To the extent we rely heavily on what our senses take in and how our memories, logic, and emotions process that input, it is easy to see how the quality of our communication – or should I say the lack thereof, can and does impact the quality of our decisions. My point today is all must strive for better clarity and understanding in every facet and nuance of our efforts at communication, not to mention listening.
Still believe you are a good communicator? Ask your significant other, your boss, your peers, your people what they think – unless, that is, you are afraid you will not like the feedback you get.
Soli Deo Gloria
“Show me your ways Lord, teach me your paths.” Psalms 25:4
J. Keith Hughey
Web site: www.jkeithhughey.com
Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.