How To Strengthen Our Decision-Making Skills?

In the first part of the issue of decision-making in issue 238 of the network monthly, entitled “What is decision-making skills”, I defined decision-making skills and referred to the difficulty of decision-making, reasons that make us not make good decisions, including some mental illnesses.

The second part of this discussion, in issue 239 of the network, was entirely devoted to “decision-making and its obstacles”, and I mentioned the role of personality disorders in decision-making.

As I mentioned before, my goal in this series of articles on soft skills is to make students and professionals in the field more familiar with cognitive skills, and I do not intend to present theoretical topics in psychology and examine a variety of decision-making models.

They have a practical aspect, and to summarize, I have not been very committed to the importance and sequence of topics from an academic perspective.

In particular, a topic such as decision making is one of the most fundamental topics in the fields of psychology, management, and business, and thousands of books and articles have been published in this field.

But I attempt to point out the definitions and barriers to decision-making, to point out the things that can help the ordinary or important decisions of the audience of this article and raise their level of decision-making skills.

Tips for making better decisions …
  1. Postpone the decision. As long as the situation allows and not making a decision does not cause harm, the decision should be postponed. In the meantime, you may find better options, or you may be able to use other people’s intellectual help, or you may find that your initial decision does not work in different spatial, temporal, or psychological contexts.
  2. Think about your decision in different places and times. If you have decided to change your major, think about your decision consciously, at different times, morning, evening, or midnight. Also think about it at home, on the street, and in the park, alone and in public. Think about it both when you are happy and when you are sad and frustrated. If you are comfortable with your decision in all or most cases, you can execute your decision with more confidence. It has happened to me many times that the decision I made during the day and I was sure of it, when I thought about it in the middle of the night, I was skeptical or anxious about the result. This is because in different places or at different times, or with different mental states, messages come from different parts of the brain that can influence our decision.
  3. Pause. If you are going to decide on something too soon, try to give yourself at least a moment. In the meantime, your mind raises the issue from an automatic or subconscious state to a level of consciousness, and according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow, you can use System 2 to make decisions. In this book, Kahneman explains that we typically have two decision-making systems. System 1 is for cases where we do not need to focus and know intuitively what to do. System 2 is for things that we need to focus on and make a decision after considering the issue. Perhaps a simple example is driving. Those who have fully learned to drive guide when thinking to the right while talking to a friend without thinking (System 1). But people who are learning to drive or have just learned should decide to turn to the right (System 2). In a future issue, I will make a full note on this topic.
  4. Accept the mistake and come back. Because of our human nature, we are always prone to misinterpretation and misinterpretation of facts. If our idea or project shows signs of inconsistency with reality, we should not insist on continuing our wrong path simply because of the decision we have made. When we spend time with an idea and even implement parts of it, it creates deep grooves in our minds to continue that path and interpret the facts in its favor. But, the reality is reality and it does not change with our different interpretations and eventually, our head will hit the hard rock somewhere. So how much better to pay attention when we see red flags fluttering to the detriment of our idea or project, and if we can not do effective work to advance the idea or project, to stop it with all its difficulty and prevent further damage. Of course, this does not conflict with the perseverance and stubbornness necessary for success and risk-taking.
  5. Use action as a criterion for theories. We have all accepted theories and beliefs in different cases because science and reality tell us they are useful. For example, smoking or replying to text messages while driving are dangerous things; But what percentage of us practice these beliefs? It has happened to me to reply to a text message or a message on social media while driving. But when I think about it or go to System 2, as Kahneman puts it, I realize that responding immediately to that message was not vital at all; It was not even necessary. I did not answer at all and nothing special happened; So why did I answer? The answer should probably be sought in the category of habit and that we put ourselves on system 1. That is, the decision to answer comes from system 1, but the act of answering itself comes from system 2. Interestingly, driving with System 1 is one of the safest driving. That is, while our so-called mind is somewhere else and we are driving at the same time, we usually subconsciously care about our own driving rules and safety, but answering a text message is something that needs to be focused on and focused on answering. It confuses our system between 1 (driving) and 2 (answering) and greatly increases the risk. So if we want to analyze our behaviors realistically, we need to see what we do in practice, not what theories we believe in. The ideal situation is that there is not much distance between practice and theory. So if we want to analyze our behaviors realistically, we need to see what we do in practice, not what theories we believe in. The ideal situation is that there is not much distance between practice and theory. So if we want to analyze our behaviors realistically, we need to see what we do in practice, not what theories we believe in. The ideal situation is that there is not much distance between practice and theory.
  6. Consult hypothetical consultants. It is almost obvious that we consult with certain people who specialize in making a decision; Although many of us do not. But one of the techniques to improve the quality of decision making is to get help from hypothetical PBOD (Personal Board of Directors) consultants. A hypothetical or personal board of directors is a group of thinkers and experts in various areas of work or person that we bring together in our minds to help us make decisions. It is better not to have more than five of these people so that you can control them! Thoughtful people usually do not get along very well! However, you can use their knowledge and experience. When you want to make a decision and you are hesitant between different options, call them and have a meeting with them. You can even set the meeting time in advance for the meeting to be formal (of course, if there are Iranians among them, consider some delays!). It does not matter whether these people are alive or not, living on other continents and speaking different languages ​​or writing their works. But two things are very important: first, that these people must be prominent and elite in your decision-making area, and second, that you must be familiar with their effects and way of thinking. You need to know them and how they think relatively well so that you can use their perspectives in the meeting. Most of them should have different ideas with you and with you, rather than with everyone or with you. Of course, you do not always have to choose great theorists as hypothetical or personal board members. You can invite people around you who you like or find useful in their work or advice to a group of hypothetical consultants. For example, a manager you have worked with and you like the way he works or a university professor whose expertise and opinion you care about.

You can also take initiative during the meeting, depending on your desire and taste. For example, you can print their picture on a piece of paper and put it on the table, or if you have a book of them, especially if the author’s picture is printed in it, put it next to other pictures.

You can put their images together on the monitor screen in the style of teleconferences.

In the hypothetical session, you can raise the issue and state the reasons for your doubts about each option or option. It may be best for participants to write answers.

With the knowledge that you have of each consultant, you write his hypothetical answer on a piece of paper and present it in the meeting at the same time.

If a consultant disagrees with an opinion, he can raise it. You can also write his answer. Finally, you can record the conclusion of each consultant on a sheet.

 Now you have some good advice that can help you make a decision.

Hypothetical counseling sessions can be held both on a case-by-case basis, to consult on a decision, and a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly, on life issues and problems.

Counselors can also vary depending on the topic. This method can even be used to predict the reactions of family or friends to a particular decision.

Put your family members together in your mind and tell them that I do not want to become a doctor, contrary to my previous decision, and I want to start a business. See what their reaction or advice is!

In the next issue, I will try to point out other strategies to improve the decision-making process.


  1. The book Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, Farrar Publications,
Straus and Giroux, First paperback Edition, 2011.

This book translating into Persian with various translations with titles such as fast and slow thinking or fast and slow thinking and is available in the book market.