We all know that first impressions are extremely important when meeting people. Equally important are your first reactions in new situations.
When was the last time you spent any time thinking about the quality of those reactions?
I’m talking here about your instantaneous, knee-jerk emotional reflexes – the kind you form in a second or less.
These reactions are extremely powerful for two reasons: They come from the core of your being, and they leave a lasting impression.
Over the years, I have developed four key steps for improving the quality of business decisions:
1. Know your reflexes.
If you’re like me, you have many reflexes. Identifying these reactions will help you notice how frequently you experience them and ultimately how accurate they are.
2. Gauge your reactions.
Once you’re aware of your reflexes, take note of the ones that light up the next time you get new information and learn which reflexes to react to, and which to suppress. Trust yourself to know which is which.
3. Early on, be especially careful of what you say.
If you take a quick verbal stand on an issue, it means your mouth has taken a position before your brain had a chance to weigh the matter. Now, not only are you saddled with the issue at hand, but also with the desire to exhibit consistency.
It’s best to let the matter play out in your head even for just one minute longer before you let the world know what you think.
4. Temper your pattern-recognition reflex.
Jerome Groopman is a distinguished doctor and professor at Harvard Medical School. In his book, How Doctors Think, Dr Groopman explains that many highly experienced doctors fall into the trap of premature diagnosis because they’ve seen similar symptoms before, they know the previous outcome and they’re pressed for time. Experienced entrepreneurs are no different.
When the matter is complex, slow down and think twice about shaping today’s challenge into the solution you used last year.
Sound business decisions
In the fast lane of business, the smart entrepreneur distinguishes between reflexes and thorough evaluation.
You may find it hard to change your reflexes, but you’ll get the best results when you mentally step back to observe and stress-test them. Then, when you make your decisions and commitments, you’ll be better able to judge how solid your basis is for making them.
When it comes to making sound business decisions, you don’t need to take a course or study a textbook; all you need are two simple words – know thyself.