Making decisions or failing to make decisions based on emotions is never a good idea. Decisions can have long-lasting consequences that can affect the business or personal lives of employees. While we all would like to think that we make decisions rationally, there is always the chance that emotions cloud our judgement.
Of course, if channelled properly, emotions are a driving factor in the success of any business. However, it is good to remember that emotions can cause bias, fear, anxiety, or pity – all of which could lead to making poor decisions.
Usually, the best decisions are made when you can balance emotions and logic to come to the best conclusion. For example, very often, you may have a gut reaction to a certain situation. In many cases, your gut reaction can be correct. In fact, scientists have identified the gut-brain axis whereby thought and emotions can affect our gut feelings. (1)
So, even with ‘gut reactions’ there is often some sort of logic involved.
The danger when making emotional decisions comes when there are so many emotions that block out logical thinking.
Let’s look in more detail at certain emotions that can affect the decisions you make.
Emotional decisions made because you are angry can have detrimental consequences. Many studies show that anger and bad moods can cause a person to take unnecessary risks that lead to self-defeating behaviour. (2)
Making emotionally-charged decisions can lead to even more anger when the risks don’t pay off.
Being empathetic is a necessary quality for any person in authority. However, being too empathetic can lead to pity and cause you to put off making important decisions.
For example, feeling sorry for a lazy or slack employee could cause you to hold off making important decisions on their employment future. This could leave you paying your employee to sit at their desk browsing social media. Or, you may end up firing the wrong employee because you have less sympathy for them.
While being positive and excited about a new venture is definitely a good thing, too much excitement can result in making bad decisions.
A surge of excitement can cause you to underestimate the risks that are involved. Very often, being excited prevents you from seeing or addressing major issues with a project. For example, you could be so excited about landing a large contract that you fail to calculate all the factors involved. This can lead to burnout, stretched resources, and even ultimate failure.
Emotions related to anxiety and stress can have a negative effect on decision making. Very often, feelings of anxiety in personal life can affect business decisions.
For example, if you are going through some personal problems related to health or family life, it can cause you to put off important business decisions.
General anxiety can also make you too cautious when you need to take some risks or may cause you to make more mistakes. Scientists have even found that rats who are under stress make worse decisions when faced with problem-solving opportunities. (3)
Allowing yourself some time to ponder on the situation can help you come to the best decision.
If you feel angry about a certain situation, then it is always important to avoid making an important decision in the heat of the moment. In some cases, the fact that you are angry about a certain situation can show that something needs to change. However, take time to ponder on the consequences of your decision.
To help balance emotions with logic in decision making, it can be helpful to make a list of pros and cons. This can help to view matters in a less emotional way, while at the same time acknowledging your emotions.
It is also a good idea to involve others in your decision making. The opinion of respected colleagues can help to be more objective in emotional situations. Sometimes, getting the advice of someone unconnected to the business can help to be even more objective about the situation.
Try to avoid making decisions when feeling upset or under pressure. In the end, taking some time to when considering a difficult decision will usually pay off in the long run.