Make Decisions without being Manipulated









Everyone knows that situation: you come to a decision alone or with others and realise after a few days or a week that you don’t feel happy with it or feel perhaps that you were manipulated in someway. The reason for this can be the lack of focus.

When making big decisions it’s alway good to consider all the factors that are important for the project or situation as a whole, rather than what is best in the short term. There are two levels for this:

General Values/Factors:

These are the values and principles that are generally important to you and should play a universal roll in decision-making. It makes sense, to become aware of your most important 5-10 values that play a part in making your decisions. We also need to keep in mind that other people have different values.

Values and factors that are specific to the situation:

The values that are important for that certain situation.

An example: a man has the task of looking after the trainstation shown in the above photograph. He sees that there are plants that are beginning to overgrow onto the platform.

If loyalty to his employer is his highest value, then this job will not be a problem for him. If, however, he values nature very highly, it may be hard for him to rip up the plants. Another value could be efficiency – to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Or perhaps thoroughness is important to him – making sure that everything is completed to perfection.

Situation-specfic values might be the safety of the passengers, or the aesthetic…or efficient work or thoroughness.

The intensity in which and the number of plants he rips up depends on his own personal values.

Wide-perspective/ Detailed-perspective

Focus has a roll to play along with the general and specific values. Supposing the plants could speak and said ‚don’t be so cruel, we are so lovely, it hurts when you rip us out. That’s mean’

If he turns his focus to this subjective state of the plants, he will by all means come to the desicion to let them be. He will regret this later, when he realises that other aspects were important to him in that decision – aspects that he hadn’t considered at the time.

This often occurs when people intentionally or unintentionally manipulate us. They pull the focus to one aspect of the situation such as ‚things are really bad for me at the moment’ or ‚this great deal is only available this week!’ In the end we make the decision as a result of these small aspects and feel bad about it afterwards. We realise only after some distance, that we made a decision that was not completely consistent. We realise that other important aspects were not considered.

Different values – keeping different aspects in perspective

In conflicts and arguments it is generally the rule that the conflicting partners are looking at different aspects of the situation. Two people might be fighting over a holiday destination – for one of them relaxation and recovery is important, for the other person it is cheap costs and internet availability. In this situation it helps to put a stop to it!

Instead of continuing the argument about why the mountain hut or the youth hostel in the city is so great, it makes much more sense to make the factors that contribute to the decision clear. This makes it easier to find a solution

We can also manipulate ourselves. It might be that one of your general values is to continue learning and developing. You want to save money, so that you can afford to do a further education course. Then you go through the shopping center and see a fanstastic piece of clothing on sale. Super cheap. Bargain. Your inner bargain hunter focuses on the value for money and considers only the price of the item. The other values you have – sensible management of money, don’t buy anything unecessary, to further educate yourself – are talked down or not even considered – that one aspect (the bargain hunter) is exaggarated.

We generally make decisions with ease and do it pretty well. So it doesn’t always make sense to make things unnecessarily complicated. Yet in situations where the decision has left a stale aftertaste, we should reconsider the decisions carefully.

Tips for good decision making:

1. Make a list of those values that are are importat to you and need to play a roll in making decisions.

2. Make note of the aspects that are important for the specfic decision.

3. When people try to manipulate the decision, put a stop to it and say ‚I need a moment to think about the situation as a whole.’

4. Keep everything – all the factors that play a part – in perspective and then decide.