Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Go With Your Gut - Everybody Else Does!

What do we mean when we use those words? What do we mean when we say we are going to go with our gut on an issue or decision? I often ask this question in my seminars and I get a variety of answers. When we go with our gut we make an emotional decision - we do what "feels right".People make over 2,400 decisions a day. For MOST people ALL decisions are made with their gut and for ALL people MOST decisions are made with their gut. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is in fact, a completely necessary thing. You could not logically analyze every decision on what shirt to wear, what to say to the person in the elevator, what box of cereal to pull off the shelf. There simply isn't the time in the day. People who lose the ability to make emotional "gut level" decisions (through a traumatic brain injury) are typically frozen into inaction. They lose the ability to function as human beings. It just isn't possible to make all our daily decisions in a cerebral way. All but a tiny fraction of our daily decisions are made based upon what "feels" right.I'll bet that if you look back, you will find that important decisions - like who to marry or what career path to take were made with your gut too - they were made based on an internal "feeling" that it was the right call. Even if we look at current important business decisions, even if we lay all the data out before us, even if we plan to make a completely, clinically logical call, the final decision will almost always be made based on what feels right. The data we assemble most often serves to validate and reinforce decisions we have already made "with our gut."As business leaders, sales people and supervisors, we all know how to "prove a point" - we all know how to "present a logical case". Unfortunately, whether or not we have "proven that we are right" has very little to do with whether people will routinely "see things our way". You can be right - they can be wrong - you know it, they know it... and they still do business with someone else, they still oppose your position at work, they still don't "buy in" to your way of thinking. You can "prove" until you are blue in the face - people will still make decisions with their gut. You simply cannot prove people out of the way that they feel.

The emotional center of your brain - your amygdala, influences decisions by assimilating your entire life experience, in a matter of milliseconds - using a series of short cuts, and then by presenting you with its conclusion in the form of a feeling. Something either feels right or wrong. Your amygdala is more likely to accept the input of someone who is "liked". It reciprocates to people who have provided some form of value in the past. It seeks readily available benchmarks for current proposals (it rarely assesses the objective value of current proposals). It seeks to be consistent with that which has worked in the past. It recommends action when given a reason to. It uses these criteria - and a few others - to deliver assessments to you in the form of a feeling.This feeling of rightness or wrongness will almost always trump any logical assessment made by evaluating and weighing data. You simply cannot "prove" to someone that they should take an action that feels wrong to them. If however, you help them to feel good about your proposal - then your data may not even be a part of the decision making process. Your valid data on your proposal is still important - but it will be important retroactively to show others and them self that they made the right decision - with their gut.The most effective business leaders, sales people and persuaders of all types do not simply seek to "prove" their points. They learn to influence gut level decisions. Your goal should not be to simply get people to see things you way - your goal should be to have the proposal feel so right that people remember your proposal as their own idea.As a sales person or as a leader, if you would influence others to join you in your way of thinking, appeal to their amygdala - have them go with their gut. No matter how much data you throw at someone - they are going to make the decision with their gut anyway. You might as well be in charge of the process.Gower D. Talley

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