Decision Making Skills: Develop a Successful Process

pros and consPart of the lyrics to the popular Rush song “Freewill” is, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

There is a resounding truth to this statement — decision-making is a part of not just our everyday lives, but it is something that we do every moment we are awake.

We decide what we will do with our time, whom we will speak to, where we will go, and how we will feel. Even if you are simply sitting on the sofa reading a book, you are practicing decision-making because you have decided to continue reading instead of doing something else.

Since a lot of your decisions affect others around you, it is considered a very important interpersonal skill.

What Are Decision Making Skills?

Just because you are making decisions every second of everyday, this doesn’t mean you are making good decisions every second of every day.

Decision making skills can be defined as the ability to make good decisions. Walker, Torres, and Turner, on the University of Florida IFAS extension website define having decision making skills as having “the ability to make things happen” not just “letting things happen.” When you have good decision making skills, you can identify various options, the probable consequences of those options, and the impact those options will have on others.

Developing good decision making skills means engaging in a decision making process. Walker, Torres, and Turner identify an eight-step decision-making process that is as follows:

  1. Recognize the problem
  2. Analyze the problem
  3. Consider your goals
  4. Look for alternatives
  5. Select the best alternative
  6. Put your decision into action
  7. Accept responsibility
  8. Evaluate the results

Of course, this decision making process might not work for everyone. However, it is a good baseline process for you to use when developing your own process.

A good decision making process always includes thinking about different alternatives and consequence and selecting the alternative with the most positive consequences.


What are Everyday Examples of Decision Making Skills?

Now that you know that each and every day is filled with hundreds and hundreds of decisions, you can probably think of a number of times you have utilized decision-making skills on an everyday basis. However, the following a few examples of good decision making skills.

– An office manager must hire a new salesperson. He holds interviews with a number of candidates and prepares a profile on each. Next, he meets with key office staff to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.

– An individual has a number of things she needs to accomplish that day. Instead of tackling the first thing that comes to her mind, she makes a list of each item she must accomplish and its priority. Then she designates a timeframe for each item.


How Can I Develop My Decision Making Skills?

Developing your decision making skills often comes down to selecting a decision making process that works for you, one that includes the elements previously discussed. When you have a routine process that you go through to make decisions, you’ll do a better job thinking through your decisions instead of just making the easiest decision.

Another way you can practice your decision-making skills is to analyze your past decisions. Take the time to break down past positive or negative decisions into steps. What made you make the choice that you did? What made the decision a good decision or a bad decision? Once you have analyzed these decisions, you can apply what you learned to future decisions.


Also, watch this video about how companies can learn to make better decisions and have positive impact on the organization’s results:


Useful resources:

Decision Making –

Why We Make Bad Decisions –

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2 Responses to “Decision Making Skills: Develop a Successful Process”

  1. Chris Hayworth says:

    I agree with what Tracey said, those steps really struck a chord with me. I wasn’t aware in the past but I totally get it now that I have been kinda semi-living by your instruction, without knowing it!

    It is beyond useful to be able to see the steps and supporting/encouraging information in plain English – absolutely invaluable!

    I have already recommended your site to friends and family, it’s such a valuable resource!

  2. Those 8 decision making steps are pretty spot on. I use most of these when deciding on a path. I also make a promise to myself to be content with whatever decision I make – you know, not always wondering about the other path I could have taken. Something I’ve found in business that really helped me was to sleep on it. I find the next day it is crystal clear what I should do. Do you think companies should give some leeway to those of us that need a little more time to make a good, firm decision?

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