Is Being Decisive Good or Bad?

31 Mar

I’ve always felt better when things are “black and white.” And, according to the research, most of us appreciate “closure” or decisiveness and feel less anxious when things are certain. But, since I’m a therapist, I’ve trained myself to tolerate feel O.K. in the “gray” area and help others who don’t like that in-between place, either.

The new book I’m reading, “Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing” by Jamie Holmes examines our anxiety with uncertainty, and I’ve learned a lot about why decisiveness (however tempting) may not be the best route, after all. decision

Turns out, when we feel something isn’t “black and white” or feel uncertain about a situation, our anxiety rises, and we are tempted to rush into making a decision. In fact, politicians have been known to exploit this: we like “decisive” leaders, not the ones who are “wishy-washy.”

BUT, the research shows that we actually make BETTER decisions when we consider the “gray” area. Sure, being decisive feels better in the short-term, but considering all our options and weighing each and every possibility actually makes for better choices.

When I relate this to conflict, it makes sense. Sometimes, I would really like to resolve the conflict right away, just to lower my anxiety. But, perhaps it’s advantageous to wait. Sleep on it a bit . Don’t rush to resolve it until I’ve given the resolution more thought.

Most of us hate anxiety, and we’re quick to find a way to lower it. But, take that extra moment and sit in the “gray” area from time to time. Doing so just may create the best outcome.


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