Slow Down to Make Better Decisions in a Crisis - Deepstash

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Slow Down to Make Better Decisions in a Crisis

https://hbr.org/2020/03/slow-down-to-make-better-decisions-in-a-crisis

hbr.org

Slow Down to Make Better Decisions in a Crisis
Executive Summary With the news around the COVID-19 pandemic developing quickly, people are making decisions - often quickly - on everything from whether to cancel meetings to how to best project their family and colleagues. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, there are several psychological factors that impact our ability to make decisions.

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Decision-making obstacles

Decision-making obstacles
Psychological reasons why we find decision-making difficult right now:
  • The realness of the present threat: the new virus is really contagious and people are dying from it around the world.
  • The amount of uncertainty about the virus: the real number of infected people, the speed of its spread, future projections.
  • We have little control over the situation. This creates anxiety. In addition, we may be doing our part, but it is hard to know which actions and programs are having an impact on creating the absence of the disease.

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The pandemic and our biases

The threat, uncertainty, and anxiety related to the pandemic lead us to make short-sighted decisions:

  • we crave more information so we are spending a lot of time looking for news updates relating to the virus and its spread. But too much negative news causes stress and distraction.
  • the lack of agency causes people to seek out actions that will make them feel more in control. Early on, this took the form of buying hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol.

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Financial decisions

People want to take action quickly, even when inaction might be more prudent.
Faced with anxiety, some are making quick decisions about finances as well and started fear selling their stocks. But this is taking a paper loss in the present that is likely to come back in the future (given the way stock markets have acted in the past).

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Slowing down

To make good decisions in troubled times, it's best to slow down, even if our fears urge us to take action.
Most of the actions you are likely to take will not be prudent in the face of a potential pandemic. By slowing down, you can use deliberative reasoning with data.

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Using deliberative reasoning

There is a lot of information out there right now about the virus and how to react. 

Take the time to read and digest it (maybe even discussing it with an expert) before making important personal and business decisions.

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Times Of Anxiety

The virus outbreak has people stirred up in anxiety, with canceling of travel plans and events the world over. 

In this ongoing public health emergency, it is easy to overreact, as t...

Coping With Anxiety

Fear of the unknown, causing anxiety, can be helped by deep breaths or just a reminder that uncertainty is a part of life.

Practicing mindfulness (or meditation), focusing on the present moment, can relieve symptoms of anxiety.

Bad News And Social Media

Too much panic-inducing news can cause unnecessary alarm and anxiety. It is advisable to stay clear of fake news and implausible claims on social media.

At the same time, it is also important to know the essential updates, like the recommended social distancing and events being canceled.

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Missing the signs

Missing the signs

There are many known psychological processes that cause individuals and organizations to miss the signs of a coming crisis – even when the signs are noticeable.

One reason is known as the...

Optimism bias

One possible reason for the "optimism bias" is found in the way we learn new information. People are quicker to change their beliefs when the information is better than expected, compared to information that is worse than expected.

  • If people were told that lockdown would be eased in two weeks, people would quickly update their beliefs. But if experts said it would last longer, people would be less likely to update their beliefs. They will make statements like "I don't really believe it" or "things change."
  • People may underestimate their personal risk of infection.
  • People may fail to adopt precautions like social distancing.

Outcomes bias

Outcomes bias it thinking that because things turned out reasonably good, we can underestimate how close they came to going wrong.

In the past 20 years, there have been two outbreaks of diseases caused by the new viruses. The outbreak of 2003 killed 774 people before it was contained, and the Mers outbreak in 2012 has killed 858. The new virus has far surpassed both.

2,000 decisions per waking hour

Research has shown that the typical person makes about 2,000 decisions every waking hour. Most are minor ones and we make them automatically. But many have serious consequences.

That's why...

Decision fatigue

Our ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears thin when it’s repeatedly used.

Identify the most important decisions you need to make, and, as often as possible, prioritize your time so that you make them when your energy levels are highest.

A steady state of distraction

Our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986. Thus, many of us live in a continuous state of distraction and struggle to focus. 

To counter this, find time each day to unplug and step back from email, social media and news.