When was the last time you were indecisive about something? Maybe it was this past Memorial Day weekend when you were debating between hot dogs or bratwurst on the grill. You knew you wanted bratwurst, but weren't sure if the majority wanted it. You stood there in the meat aisle with some friends and bantered back and forth. Everyone threw out the nonchalant, “Whatever you choose is fine” or “It doesn't matter (when deep down, it does).” Seconds become minutes and you start moving into which ingredients are best (when again, it doesn't really matter). You finally choose hot dogs out of sheer panic, tossed it in the cart and started replaying the decision in the back of your mind as you made your way to the register.
That’s indecision in a nutshell. You double back on everything, don’t make confident decisions at the onset and just...waste...time (all the while, you REALLY wanted bratwurst). Now take that grocery store example and apply it to your job. Why are you so indecisive in certain situations?
Frankly, there are a number of reasons. But this isn't a post about the negatives. This is about the positive steps you take to make that choice and be happy you did.
Step #1 - Eliminate Second-Guessing
Wouldn't it be great if we could touch the sides of our temple, hit some magic button that allows for unlimited “stream of consciousness” moments? Unfortunately, we don’t have that button. The reality is everything inside your head is telling you a decision you’re about to make might not work out, that it sounds good at first, but then you overanalyze and your golden idea quickly becomes a pile of rubble in your mind. Next time, say it once and forget it. Let the next step take the lead from there.
Step #2 - Work on Constructive Criticism
No one likes to be criticized. I get it. That’s because too often, we get used to how great our idea is and can’t fathom how anything could possibly be wrong with it. That’s why there are two types of criticism: constructive criticism (Yay!) and criticism (Boo!). The first one lets everyone hammer out someone’s idea, possibly tweaking it as they go. But just plain criticism? You’ll spend more time giving each other dirty looks and thinking of ways to strike down that person’s idea. Go with the more positive option.
Step #3 - Give Yourself Internal Deadlines
Aside from the actual deadline, give yourself an internal deadline to decide on something. If it comes to the point you log jam too much information and can’t dig your way out, go back to step #1. Get used to setting goals in your head along with putting it on your to-do list.
Step #4 - Walk Away From It
The easiest one of them all! No really, it is. The moment you get hung up on a choice, go for a quick five-minute walk outside the office. Just be by yourself and think. If you find that Eureka moment, return to the conference room and immediately write it on the whiteboard. Who cares if it doesn't get used right then and there. That’s your contribution to the project.
In the end, indecision is a subconscious stymie. Yes, there are still times when employees fear making decisions solely on the fact they don’t want to upset anyone. Get over that fear. Your company should be fostering open-ended discussions as it is, so take your idea and throw it into the decision pool while the water’s warm.
For more tips on becoming a better decision maker, watch this course from our topic, Decision Making:
Course Title: Making Quick Choices