Most business people these days have too much information and not enough time. We don’t have the time to weigh up every facet of every decision. This tends to encourage us to take shortcuts where we can. As such, we often go into a meeting or a negotiation with an idea as to what the outcome might be.
This is known as confirmation bias. It is our natural tendency to seek out information or to look at things in a way that confirms our preconceptions. We are all guilty of it to one degree or another.
How can I avoid confirmation bias?
It is almost impossible to be unbiased in our day to day lives. The key to managing our confirmation bias is awareness. For example, if you feel uncomfortable about the facts surrounding a particular decision, try to tune into what is driving that emotional response. Are you uncomfortable because you think you are right and the facts prove you wrong?
Will the outcome of the decision making process result in a positive outcome for the business? If so, then try to park your personal feelings on the subject and go along with the decision that is best for the business.
When making bigger business decisions, you should involve a team of people so that alternative options can be considered. Having a different view to others in the room is healthy. Debate should be encouraged – especially when it comes to business decisions. Encourage those around you to share alternative views and invite others to play devil’s advocate.
You should avoid leading questions. If you want to make unbiased decisions, you need to gather data, analyse that data and move forward on the basis of what the data tells you rather than what you would like the answer to be.