How To Be Decisive

decisions
This is an excerpt from Start a Successful Business: Expert Advice to Take Your Startup from Idea to Empire by Colleen DeBaise © 2018 AMACOM/AMA. All rights reserved.

Be Courageous

All leaders must make courageous decisions. It goes with the job. You understand that in certain situations, some difficult and timely decisions must be made in the best interests of the entire organization. Such decisions require a firmness, authority, and finality that will not please everyone.

 

ADVICE: HOW TO BE DECISIVE

“I think everybody who creates something is doing something audacious. Because the most difficult time is when you are starting from scratch with no financial backing—just an idea. So true audaciousness comes about with just those people who have the pluck and the courage to say, ‘Screw it; let’s do it.’” -Richard Branson, Virgin Group chairman

There are a few truths when it comes to decision making, according to Anna Johansson, a business consultant:

Logical decisions tend to trump emotional ones. Since emotions can sometimes make us biased or see things in an inaccurate light, basing a decision on logic, rather than on a current emotional state, usually gives you more objective information to make the final call.

Thought-out decisions tend to trump impulsive ones. Because you’ve spent more time on the problem, you’ll understand it more thoroughly and be better versed in the variables that might arise from any possible route.

Flexible decisions tend to trump concrete ones. Things change frequently, so making a decision that allows for some eventual degree of flexibility usually offers more adaptable options than a decision that’s absolute or concrete.

These aren’t absolute rules, however. For example, many entrepreneurs trust their gut when making decisions—and indeed, instinct can sometimes beat over-analytical thinking.

 

“Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” -Sheryl Sandberg

 

Here are some strategies you can use in almost any decision making process to ensure that you make the best choice, according to Johansson:

 

Step Away From the Problem

Scientific research suggests that distancing yourself from a problem can help you face it in a more objective way. For example, let’s say you’re trying to choose between two different opportunities, and you can’t tell which one is better for you. Instead of remaining in your own frame of mind, consider yourself as an outside observer, such as a mentor giving advice or a fly on the wall. Removing yourself in this way helps you filter out some of your cognitive biases and lean you toward a more rational decision.

 

Research: distancing yourself from a problem allows you to face it objectively.

 

Give Yourself Some Time

Most of us end up being lousy decision makers when we try to force a decision in a moment, or push through to a final choice after first learning about a situation. In some high-pressure environments, this is a must, but it isn’t the most effective or rewarding way to do things. Instead, accuracy and reliability in decision making tends to increase if you first give yourself some time to decompress and collect yourself—even if it’s just a few minutes. This may also help you remove yourself from the problem, knocking out two of these strategies in one fell swoop.

 

Know That There Is No Right Answer

You can stress yourself out trying to pin down the answer that’s objectively correct, if you believe one such answer exists. Instead, remind yourself that there’s almost never an objectively correct answer. “All you can do is make the decision that’s the best for you at the time, and it’s probably going to work out okay either way,” Johansson says.

 

Forget the Past

Remember the lessons you’ve learned from the past, but don’t let your past experiences affect what you choose in the present. For example, if you’ve paid a hundred dollars a month for a service that isn’t getting you anywhere, you may be tempted to continue simply for the reason that you’ve already spent thousands of dollars. This skewed line of reasoning is an example of an escalation bias, in which you’re hesitant to cut your losses. You can’t change the past, so instead, look to the present and future.

 

Leadership Tip: don’t let your past experiences affect what you choose in the present.

 

Commit

You can overanalyze a problem as much as you like, but it probably isn’t going to help anything. It’s just going to bring up new complications, force you to second-guess yourself, and possibly double back on a decision you’ve already made. All of these will make the process more excruciating and will make you unsatisfied with whatever decision you land on. Instead, pick an option early and fully commit to it.

There’s no perfect way to make a decision, and there are very few situations in which a decision is ever “right.” However, with these strategies in tow, you’ll be well-equipped to make more rational, complete, and best of all, satisfying decisions in your life.

3 Keys to Negotiating Success

3 Keys to Negotiating Success

 

Do people take advantage of you?

Do you let your emotions get in the way of your negotiations?

Do you want to be a better negotiator?

 

Corey Kupfer has negotiated successful deals for over 30 years as an entrepreneur and lawyer, and is committed to inspiring authenticity in business. Kupfer runs his own firm, Kupfer & Associates, PLLC, and founded a speaking, training and consulting company called Authentic Enterprises, LLC. He’s the author of Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment & Equilibrium – The Three Keys to True Negotiating Success & How to Achieve Them.

I recently spoke with him about the three keys to authentic negotiations.

 

“You do not get what you want. You get what you negotiate.” -Harvey Mackey

 

Authentic Negotiations

Your book title starts with the word authentic. That’s not usually a descriptor of negotiating styles. I’d love to know more about your approach and this uniqueness.

My teachings, based on over 30 years of day-in and day-out professional business negotiating, are mainly focused on the personal and deep internal work you need to do to become a great negotiator: Clarity, Detachment and Equilibrium (or CDE).  A lot of negotiating training is on the level of techniques, tactics and counter-tactics.  Some of those are very manipulative, lack integrity, and are ultimately ineffective – so they should never be used.  Some are okay, but they are not at the core of true negotiating success.  At best, they are good to know as additional tools beyond the deeper and more important work of authentic negotiating.  Without Clarity, Detachment and Equilibrium, tactics and counter-tactics will be of marginal impact at best.

Authentic negotiators get total clarity on what will work and won’t work for them on every significant term and what their true bottom line is – from a place of clarity, not ego. They then stay detached from the outcome. They have no hesitation to walk away from a negotiation – not from a place of anger or ego but, instead, from a place of clarity with no upset, judgement or hard feelings.  Finally, they maintain their equilibrium throughout the negotiating process and don’t let their emotions throw them off so that they are able to stay present to and maintain their clarity and detachment.  Although, of course, leverage matters, in over 30 years of professional negotiating, I found that the most impactful common controllable elements are those three things – not the negotiating tactics and counter-tactics that many of us have been taught.

I’ve actually created a quiz where people can learn if they are an authentic negotiator, which can be found at CoreyKupfer.com.

 

“Authentic negotiators determine their true bottom line from a place of clarity, not ego.” –Corey Kupfer

 

The Top 6 Reasons for Negotiation Fails

What are some of the most common errors people make negotiating?

The top six reasons negotiations fail are:

  1. Lack of preparation – external preparation and, the often overlooked, internal preparation which requires doing the deep inner work to get clear on your objectives and determine your true bottom line on every material deal point.
  2. Ego – including avoiding the pitfalls of pride, wanting to be liked, wanting to win and talking too much.
  3. Fear – including fear of losing, failure, success, the unknown and looking bad or letting someone down.
  4. Rigidity – including pre-conceived notions and the danger of inflexibility.
  5. Getting emotional/losing objectivity – which can kill a deal because you fall in love with a bad deal or it can push you in the wrong direction.
  6. Lack of integrity – with others and, less talked about but as important, with yourself.

Here are some additional specific reasons that fall under the various larger categories above:

  • Talking too much which is most often triggered by either ego or fear.
  • Not listening.
  • Thinking of negotiation as a game.
  • Being focused on winning instead of achieving objectives.
  • Letting emotions get in the way of your clarity, detachment or equilibrium.
  • Not getting connected to a powerful context.
  • Not knowing your purpose for the negotiation.
  • Not determining the measurable results you want to achieve.
  • Not holding high expectations.
  • Having unreasonable expectations.
  • Not understanding the natural negotiating rhythm and moving either too fast or slow.
  • Not being aware and prepared for cultural differences.

 

“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Sir David Frost

 

Do skilled negotiators often exploit these errors? If they know the issue is “getting emotional/losing objectivity” do they deliberately work to have one side off balance in this way?

Absolutely!  Manipulative negotiators are going to look to take advantage of every weakness they see in you and use it to their advantage.  They will leverage that emotional imbalance the most they can even though it would be shortsighted to do so, especially in one of the many negotiations that results in an ongoing relationship.  Authentic negotiators will use these errors to their benefit as well, though.  There is a way to do that which is authentic and not manipulative.  It is the difference between paying attention to the information and leveraging opportunities that emotion reveals to help attain your objectives vs. actively manipulating people’s emotions.  For example, if somebody is the type of person who emotionally needs to feel like they have won a negotiation, I will design my negotiating strategy with that in mind.  As long as I achieve my objectives, I am happy to have them feel like they have won.  The difference in the authentic approach is that my focus is achieving my objectives, not using their need to win to take advantage of them and manipulate that need to get as much as I can at the expense of the ongoing relationship or getting a reputation as a negotiator who takes advantage of others.

 

“Manipulative negotiators leverage emotional imbalance.” –Corey Kupfer

 

Use Context – Purpose – Results

Lessons from United Airlines: 6 Steps For When Your PR Fails

Leadership Lessons from United Airlines

 

The minute the video starts, it’s obvious it will be explosive. And it sure has been. It has now been viewed millions of times around the world: A man is forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight.

Most of us are offended that the man was treated like this, bloodied as he was hauled out of his seat and dragged down the aisle. Most of us have also had our share of experiences with airlines, and this hits a nerve, like a final straw breaking the collective back of the paying passengers. We’ve been hit with baggage fees. We’ve been told, “No, you can’t have the whole can of soda.” Blankets disappeared ages ago. We’re scanned, wanded, searched, and pushed along through a system full of weary travelers with suspicious glances. Our flights are canceled or delayed for hours—always, it seems, the minute we arrive at the gate, harried and exhausted from running, of course.

Watching this man pulled off so brutally, we ask, “Why was he pulled off the flight?” The answer doesn’t make us feel any better: so that United Airlines could use the seat for a flight attendant.

A customer, obeying all rules, who the airline boarded moments before, who was sitting in the seat he paid for, was chosen at random for removal.

He didn’t want to get off the plane, and so the scene escalated.

Defenders of the airline will point out that this is not only legal, but then they point to his behavior during and after the incident. They will also point out that it was security, and not airline personnel, who removed him.

My law degree is decades old, and I’ve been an inactive member for too many years to weigh in on the legal issue here except to say that it’s far from clear.

 

Make the Right Choices

What’s clear to me is this:

United apparently chose policy over principle, chose employees over customers, chose to save a few dollars only to lose millions.

 

“When in doubt, choose principle over policy.” -Skip Prichard

 

Worse yet is when you remember United’s motto: Fly the friendly skies. Maybe the friendliness only starts when you’re airborne?

Many PR disasters seem to worsen just when you think the lowest point is reached.

And that’s what happened when the CEO stepped in with his comments. He sent a memo blaming the passenger and defending employees, saying that they were following existing procedures. He called the passenger disruptive and belligerent.

Did he apologize? He “apologized for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

Re-accommodate? The man was bloody and seemed to be unconscious!

Only after outrage about his comments exploded online did he change to become “outraged” himself about the incident. His tone has now changed to apologetic. Yesterday he softened them further and even said it was a failure of policy and training. At least the tone is improving.

The minute I saw this video, I said the obvious: This is going to be a PR disaster for United. They better have a full crisis team working on it. When I saw the CEO’s comments, I said to a group that this would now make PR history. It has found a place in marketing classes where these types of mistakes are prominently featured. It may well be mentioned along with other great PR blunders like BP’s spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 10 minutes to ruin it.” -Warren Buffet

 

What can we learn from this entire mess?

 

 

Lessons from United

I’m reminded to always look on the positive side of things. That sentiment was shared by Andy Imbimbo, who posted this:

So many people are posting about this guy being dragged off a plane. I can’t remember the last time everyone has been so…….United!

 

“So many people are posting…I can’t remember the last time everyone’s been so..United!” -@AndyCoolBeans

 

That’s a great point. We are mostly united against this behavior. In a politically divided nation, it has shifted the conversation from politics.

Meanwhile, the public relations problem for United reminds me of how each of us can handle our screw-ups, mistakes, and errors in judgment. I’ve made my fair share, too, though thankfully not at all like this one.

Here are a few leadership lessons from United’s….well, to be kind, should I say “lapse in judgment”? 

 

Avoid

If you can avoid a problem, that’s always the first step. It wasn’t necessary. The employees could have driven the few hours to reach their destination and prioritized the customers. United could have offered a higher amount of money until they had enough volunteers. Why allow all of the passengers to board and take their seats if you didn’t have enough seats for them? There are a number of ways this could have been avoided.

 

“Never respond analytically to a problem growing emotionally.” -Skip Prichard

 

Admit

Here’s my rule: Never respond analytically to a problem growing emotionally. Pointing to policies and legalese will satisfy only a small percentage of the public. Most people want you to connect emotionally and sincerely first. No excuses. The language initially used made it worse. “We apologize that we had to re-accommodate some passengers” was such an emotional miss that it fueled the fire of an already outraged public. Always great to think of Molly Ivins. She once said, “The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.”

 

“The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.” -Molly Ivins

 

Apologize

Apologies are not as easy as they may seem at first. I learned this especially from the research of Jennifer Thomas and the book she co-wrote with Gary Chapman. There is a specific language of apology. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their communication, but PR departments should take note.

 

“Genuine apology opens the door to the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.” -Jennifer Thomas

 

 

Assess

15 Thanksgiving Quotes to Start the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here in the United States. Even outside of the USA, you can benefit from a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. Here are fifteen quotes to get you started:

 

“Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.” –Amy Grant

 

“Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then they discover once a year is way too often.” –Johnny Carson

 

 

 

“I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that is centered around food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.” –Marcus Samuelsson

 

“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” –W.J. Cameron

 

“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” –Erma Bombeck

 

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” –Irv Kupcient

 

“Thanksgiving Day comes…once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” –Edward Sandford Martin

 

 

“I like football. It’s a great way to avoid conversation with your family at Thanksgiving.” –Craig Ferguson

Leaders Never Expect Logic Alone to Persuade

This is a guest post by Dianna Booher. Diana is the bestselling author of 46 books with nearly 4 million copies sold. Her latest book is What More Can I Say?: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It.

Logic and Emotion

Peers expect you to build logical business cases, of course. Just don’t expect logical arguments to win people over to your way of thinking. Even in large corporations that focus on very logical approaches to strategy, culture, and analysis of data, change happens because the leaders find a way to help people see problems or solutions in ways that influence their emotions––not just their reasoning.

Research overwhelmingly confirms that people base buying decisions on emotion, and then support them with logic.  Or to put it as eloquently as poet Richard Bach did: “Compelling reason will never convince blinding emotion.”

 

“Compelling reason will never convince blinding emotion.” -Richard Bach

 

Obviously, an emotional appeal may be misused to manipulate others. In such situations, the very fabric of influence becomes flawed. But used with wisdom and integrity, emotional appeals can have tremendous power to sway people to change for the better. Here’s how:

 

Speak to the Heart

People often cannot hear logical reasons for change until they work through emotional issues surrounding that change.  In What More Can I Say?: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It, I elaborate further on these emotional issues surrounding a logical need for change:

  • the message itself
  • the way the message is phrased
  • the character and personality of the leader
  • the listener’s interactions with the leader
  • the actual setting (physical, emotional, timing)

Analogies, illustrations, and metaphors matter a great deal in your phrasing.  Body language communicates caring, confidence, competence—or incompetence. Where and how you deliver the message determines if it hits a receptive or raw nerve.

Whether you’re talking about change, political campaigns, or charity, when you want to move people to action, speak to evoke emotion—to inspire, to call out their best, to appeal to a cause, to stand united.  To see how well emotional appeals work, look no further than the streets during a crisis.

 

Calm the Emotional Reaction of Fear

“That’s too hard.” “I can’t master this job.” “I can’t change that habit.”