Decision Making: Skills & Techniques Video

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  • 0:04 What is Decision-Making?
  • 1:03 Decision-Making Skills
  • 2:42 Six Steps of Decision-Making
  • 3:12 Decision-Making Techniques
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

We make decisions all the time, but how do we make them? How useful are our decision-making techniques? In this lesson, you'll learn about the skills used in decision making, the six steps involved, and finally, four different techniques you can use when faced with a decision.

What Is Decision Making?

Let's say that ten-year-old Arnold needs to choose between a hamburger and a hot dog at a restaurant. Seventeen-year-old Amber needs to pick which college she will attend: Juilliard, Harvard or Oxford University. Both Arnold and Amber need to make decisions. Arnold's decision is minor. Amber's decision, on the other hand, will affect the rest of her life.

Decision making involves the process of choosing between two or more courses of action. In many everyday decisions, you must decide your course of action in a split second. For example, if you're driving and you need to decide whether or not to turn down a road or keep going straight, you need to make that decision within only a few seconds. You won't have time to draw out a lengthy plan of which road you should take.

But then, there are opportunities where you have time to ponder and ruminate on a decision, like Amber, with her choice of college. Amber can draw out the pros and cons of each college and choose a course of action based on which option has more advantages. There are certain skills that can make someone a better decision maker. Let's learn more about these skills using Amber and Arnold as examples.

Decision-Making Skills

  • Intuition - This encompasses an aptness to comprehend something instantly, without the need for analyzing, thinking, or conscious reasoning. When Amber was robbed at gunpoint, her intuition told her to throw her wallet and run in the opposite direction.
  • Foresight - This is the ability to predict consequences of a particular action or decision. Amber made the decision to study for her test instead of going out with friends, because she could foresee that if she got a bad grade on her math test, that it could impact her college admissions.
  • Critical thinking - This entails the capacity to think and reason clearly and logically, and comprehend how concepts and ideas relate. It involves the ability to gather, analyze and evaluate information. Amber used critical thinking skills when making her college decision. She visited her top choices and gathered all of the financial and other info she would need to make her decision. Then she analyzed the information using a chart of pros and cons for each college.
  • Emotional intelligence - This is an ability to read others' emotions, which can aid in decision making involving people and to use emotional information for making decisions. Arnold was able to notice cues that his mom was getting irritated that he was taking so long to choose between a hot dog and a hamburger, so he went ahead and chose a hot dog.
  • Self-control - This involves an emotional regulation that is useful to control extreme emotions so that a person can use rationality in making decisions. Arnold's mom used self-control and anger management techniques, like taking deep breaths and taking a time out for herself, so that she wouldn't yell at Arnold to get back in the car without dinner.

Six Steps of Decision Making

Before we approach different decision-making techniques, let's look at the basic decision-making model, which includes six procedures that will guide you:

  1. Define the problem or decision to be made
  2. Identify all alternatives and options
  3. Assess all alternatives and options
  4. Make the decision
  5. Employ your final decision
  6. Analyze the decision you made (i.e. the outcome, the consequences, and whether or not you would do anything different next time)

Decision-Making Techniques

There are many approaches, models, and techniques that one can use when trying to make a decision. Some are more intricate than others, so you have to decide which one to use! Whichever technique you choose should be determined by the situation, number of options, and type of data.

1. Cost Benefit Analysis

This is usually done on a spreadsheet and includes the costs and benefits of a particular decision. It's basically a fancier version of the pros and cons list. For example, Tom's Tires needed to decide if they wanted to invest in a credit card system for their business. They determined all of the costs associated with this decision and the potential benefits. They decided that the benefits outweighed the costs and bought the system.

2. Decision Tree

You can begin the tree with a circle indicating the topic of decision, and draw branches from the circle indicating the different decisions that can be chosen. Then, you draw branches from those decision options indicating the predicted path or consequences of that particular decision.

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