Business Decisions: Heart vs. Mind

July 22, 2014

There have been so many times when we have heard someone say, “This is a business decision, not a personal one.” But, is that really true?

When I was much younger, I used to think that there was a necessary divide between business and personal decisions; now I think that we make business decisions based on our personal beliefs and emotions and then we justify them rationally.

For example, when fax machines first came on the market, I wanted one. They weren’t really essential, but I wanted one. Same, too, with a photocopy machine. Both of them were horrendously expensive when they first came out but I wanted them.

I justified the expense saying that I needed them for business and they were a tax write-off, so I bought them. By the time I actually did need them, the prices had gone down drastically. My business decision had been powered by my desire rather than by my business needs.

Take a look at all the business deals that look spectacular on paper and then look at all the businesspeople who have turned them down because something didn’t “feel right” about them.

Most of the successful businesspeople I’ve met have told me that they rely on their gut. If something doesn’t feel right, they pass on it, no matter how logical it is and no matter what the data shows. They also tell of the times they have invested in something that all the pundits said were a loser, only to find out that their investment was pure gold.

Whenever someone tells me they interviewed for a high-level job and they think they are going to get it, I tell them to first have an interview with their immediate supervisor and to also meet their future colleagues. This will be a business decision based on emotions.

Think of it this way: your immediate boss will probably be the one who writes your performance evaluations and, if there is a personality clash, you might not score as well as you really deserve. And if you are replacing an employee who was well-liked by your future colleagues, they could sabotage your career because they resent you replacing him or her.

As long as business decisions are made by humans, there will always be an emotional factor as the driving force behind them.

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