The article, “Why The Knee Is The Most Dangerous Part Of A Leader’s Body” by Terry Starbucker created an amazing visual for me. He writes, “Leaders are constantly processing information and in the course of doing that are called upon to make decisions based on that information. Or not make them.” Starbucker then illustrates how often quick decisions act as a tic, or a “knee-jerk response” and offers three main ways to control these rash decisions: proper anger management, respect for the facts and keeping hearsay in perspective.
These are all components of critical thinking. On this blog you may recognize them as checking your emotions, distinguishing fact from opinion and weighing the data carefully.
But what really drew me in was the visual of when a doctor applies pressure to that point in the leg that immediately forces my knee to convulse. The response is immediate and uncontrollable.
Isn’t this a little like e-mail? Something gets delivered to my inbox, I read it and reply as soon as I can, often without evaluating the potential long-term impact. Or when the phone rings and a client asks for a pretty big favor and immediately you hear yourself saying some version of yes. There are countless activities in a day that create immediate, almost knee-jerk responses. The problem is, as Starbucker points out, some decisions could be career ending.
My advice on how anyone can avoid making rash decisions? Critically think. Here are some of the ways you can do that:
- Consider the relevance.
- Distinguish fact from opinion.
- Seek alternative viewpoints.
- Be aware of persuasion techniques.
- Recognize bias.
- Check strong emotions.
- Weight data carefully.
- Use multiple sources.
- Ask others to critique.
- Diagram for understanding.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Pauker-Silva