Are you a heart person or a head person? This is a question you would do well to ask yourself. When you are caught in the crossfire between your heart and your head, stay moored and calm. Whether you go on a cerebral or emotional trip, make sure you get the best out of it. After all, with so many decisions being taken in ones life; it makes sense to know what ones style of decision making is. Rational and emotional decision making are considered to be independent of each other, when in truth they are interlinked for most people, with one or the other dominating in different situations.
In fact, psychologists argue that emotions are essential for good decision- making. Being ultra rational while taking a decision isn’t exactly conducive to taking a good one. It involves perceiving the situation in its context and entirety and sometimes the heart does have a perception of a situation that the mind might not.
Heart versus Head: Following ones heart (intuition) is the ability to know or feel something without using logic or reason. Very often many of our decisions are taken intuitively- for instance, making friends with a certain person, falling in love are intuitive decisions. On the other hand intuitive skills can also be the fulcrum, which can tilt the scale of analytical decision making towards one or the other solutions. Following ones head (analytical) is the ability to use logic to examine and measure a problem. People who have strong analytical skills can test solutions and options methodically and factually to arrive at the most efficient decision. Researches shows that people who have suffered brain tumours and subsequent damage to the parts of the brain responsible for emotions and moods found it impossible to make good decisions, even when there is no damage to their cognitive abilities or overall intelligence. Feelings, the research concluded, provide the context into which rational analysis fits.
Make emotions work rationally: In ones personal life, heart decisions are common, but the head rules in the professional world. Sulajja Firodia Motwane, Jt MD, kinetic Engineering Ltd says “In the world of business, decision- making is one of the most critical aspects of successful management. I believe that decision making in business must be a rational process. It requires structured thinking that can allow your mind to evaluate costs and benefits”.
Understanding your personality: Going with your heart or your head often depends on your individual personality and mental make- up. Psychiatrist Dr. Chetan Jain says, “Some individuals are capable of taking calculated decisions even on emotional matters like relationships and love- here the analytical mindset is predominant. At the other extreme, you have people who take emotional decisions even in matters relating to career or business- this is also not very advisable situation. The ideal would probably be a fine blend of both, determined by the individual situation”.
Similarly, with entrepreneur Mrs. Apila, she states “I take rational decisions depending on direct observations and information’s. But emotion always plays a role in my decision. This is because I strongly believe that no decision can be absolutely rational or only emotional. It is always a combination of both. My industry (handlooms and handicrafts) and field of work is such that I’m continuously vulnerable to emotion, therefore, there is a challenge to live up to a rational decision and not let emotions get the better of me. However, I don’t think I would take a decision which is rationally perfect but emotionally breaks me or makes me lose my sleep”.
Recognize your mindset: A majority of our decisions are based on more or less rational decision- making process, which one has evolved over years, shaped by both socio- cultural and emotional forces within us. Following our head or our heart is second nature to us, depending on the situation. While one might throw rationale to the wind while falling in love with an eminently unsuitable person and go purely by gut instinct, the same person might weigh pros and cons of various options, consult trusted friends and advisors before making a job switch or an investment decision. Mindsets play an important role in determining whether one is a heart or head person. Most of us fall into two mindsets- those who think with rigid mindsets, where clear distinctions, black and white and no grey areas pre-dominate; and fuzzy mindsets where ambiguities, the novel and mental fluidity are welcome. Interestingly, authoritarians, anorexics and bulimics all come under the first category. The second category is the one that encompass free thinkers, artists and social reformers.
When to avoid taking decisions: It is important to be in a perfect frame of mind to take good decisions. If you are under stress, tired, hungry or ill, postpone decision- making, if you can, till later. At such times, other factors unrelated to the issue at hand may cloud your ability to make a good decision. If you feel more drawn towards one option without considering the rational benefits, try and analyze why you feel emotionally drawn to it. Sometimes, one’s overall upbeat or dejected mood might lead one into taking decisions which are unsound. After all taking unsound decisions does have long lasting implications.
Develop your decision making skills:
1. Define the problem as clearly and honestly as you can. Make sure you don’t confuse the effects of the problem with the problem itself.
2. Gather as much information as you can about the situation, to be able to come up with an effective solution.
3. Seek advice from a person whom you trust and respect and who will have an insight into the issue.
4. Don’t make snap decisions or take the easy way out.
5. List out alternatives and weigh the pros and cons.
6. Don’t have unrealistic expectations from your decision.
7. Go with your gut instinct.