Our brains don’t always work for us. That’s not to say that they work against us, but it helps to remember that the default setting is to serve a more primitive master.
The human wet-ware between our ears evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, and with it so did every persuasion trick in the book. We are constantly bombarded by both our environment and other people to make decisions, so it’s no surprise that we often favor quick and easy answers. From the way delicious food smells, to why beautiful people sell the most expensive items, to the way the car dealer talks to you – we are all highly suggestible beings.
So what do we do when we need to press pause on our instincts and really consider an important decision without all of the pre-programmed influence? Whether it’s about our diet, or splurging on a gift, or a business transaction – how can we temporarily make sure our ego is in check?
Dan Ariely told Shane Parish (on The Knowledge Project podcast) three methods to use for deemphasizing ego in the decision making process:
1. Think as a consultant. Consider how you would advise someone else in the same circumstance
2. Think over the long term. What if you had to respond to the same situation 1000 times? What would you want the average result to look like?
3. Think about how you’d respond if the stakes were higher. Imagine that there’s (even more) money on the table, or that a life is on the line. How does that influence your next move?
The goal isn’t to become some hyper-rational robot, but to make better decisions.
Before we get better outcomes, we need better decisions, and before better decisions come better processes. We only get better processes when we slow down enough to properly consider the steps leading up to the desired outcome.
The goal is, at least for the important stuff, to use less “monkey brain” and more “strategist brain.” Ariely’s methods are worth keeping handy.