How to improve your snap decision-making

Don’t be afraid to make decisions, even the wrong ones.


Last month, I repeated the same mistake that I made last December.

A service technician of a company offered me a lower service fee as long as I would not declare the actual service done when their company called me. My mistake was I took the offer.

It was a win-win offer for me and the technician. I would pay a lower fee and the technician would get the full amount that I paid instead of receiving a small commission from the company.

It was a win-win offer, right? But, not for the company… and not for me and the technician in the long run:

  • The two companies, no matter how large they are, suffered from losses. The technicians used their respective companies’ resources and were also paid for their time. However, the companies did not get the right amount of payment.

  • Both times, I had problems with the service I received after two weeks. But, I couldn’t go after the companies to fix the problems because the actual services I received were not declared. It was also hard for me to reach the technicians even after they promised me the that they would take care of any problems themselves.

  • For the technicians, if they keep doing that and the companies they are working with suffer from losses repeatedly, the companies may be dissolved in the future and the technicians would lose their jobs. Not to mention, they may get fired if their respective companies find out. (For one of those technicians, the company did find out that he offered the same arrangement for many of the company’s clients and he was fired.)

Both of those times, the technicians made me the offer on the spot where I had to decide then and there. I had to make a decision quickly.

Under pressure, I made the wrong decision. Not only did I make the wrong long-term decision, I also did not do the right thing.

Decision-making is already hard enough when you have ample time to make a decision. Having very little time to do so makes it even harder.

So how do you improve your decision-making, especially the snap ones? Here are some things I learned from my past two mistakes:

  1. Keep making decisions. Don’t be afraid to make decisions, even the wrong ones. Decision-making is like a muscle. It gets better when you keep practicing it.

  2. Learn from your decisions, especially from your mistakes. Note down your learnings if you have to. (After my repeating my mistake, I took down notes to avoid making the same mistake the third time.)

  3. Know your values... and rank them. I value honesty and doing the right thing. But, I also value being frugal. When I had to make a quick decision, I valued my frugality over my honesty and I failed to do the right thing. Now, I’m learning to value honesty and doing the right thing even if it means spending a little bit more.

  4. Catch yourself when you are under pressure. If you can, step away from the conversation. Ask your spouse or someone with you for advice. Break the flow of the conversation. That will help you think clearly and make the right decision based on your values.

I’m happy to share that just last week, another service representative gave me a similar offer, but I refused. I guess somehow, I’m already learning from my mistakes. (But, I also felt disheartened because of employees who are doing those kinds things to the companies who are paying them.)

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