No one is infallible. In fact, most of us make mistakes on a daily basis! And while the occasional mistake is what makes us human, there are many situations when mistakes are simply not acceptable. In the business world, mistakes that result in loss for the business generally have strong repercussions—whether from stakeholders, C-level management, customers or even peers.
A great many mistakes can be avoided by taking the time to think them through before executing. Unfortunately, many people forgo this important step because they believe their opinion is the right one. And while it’s good to have confidence in yourself, it’s better to be proven certain by vetting your ideas.
Listen to your opponents
If you’re about to make a decision and you ask another person for their opinion, what happens when they come out in opposition? Some people dig in and defend themselves. Others immediately rebuke their original decision and choose the alternative. Still more people will be paralyzed by the conflict of ideas.
The right answer is actually none of these outcomes. Rather, the right answer is to listen and consider the points being brought up in dissent. Just because they’re opposite doesn’t mean they’re invalid! In fact, taking a binary approach to decision making (I’m right, they’re wrong or they’re right, I’m wrong) will likely have poor outcomes either way.
Think of dissenting opinions as a fact-finding mission. You don’t have to act in the capacity someone else suggests, but they may yield valuable data that you can use to inform your own actions.
Realize logical fallacies
When making uninformed or unvetted decisions, it’s easy to fall into any one of several logical fallacy traps. Likewise, it’s easy to disregard opinions you don’t agree with using logical fallacies to justify your own. In taking the time to really listen to dissenting opinions objectively, you can keep yourself from poor decision making. Some common fallacies include:
- Appeal to authority, which bolsters an argument using experts that may not be qualified to weigh in.
- Appeal to fear, which dotes on negatives in order to invalidate positives, disregarding logic.
- Bandwagon effect, which postures something as correct just because others believe it to be correct.
- Statistical manipulation, which uses biased statistics to prove an argument or twists data to fit a hypothesis.
- Slippery slope, which predicts future outcomes based on decisions that have not been made yet.
- Straw man, which exaggerates a simple point for the purposes of decontextualizing it and lessening its value.
- Whatasboutisms, which don’t address the particular points at hand, drawing attention away from the argument at hand.
Because logical fallacies tend to arise when a person is convincing themselves of something, it’s important to bounce ideas off of someone who can drag these fallacies out into the open. Hearing a dissenting opinion and facing it without the aid of logical fallacies will shed light on the merit it has to offer.
Employ smarter decision making
Whether a conflicting opinion turns out to be a better alternative or just insightful for informing your own ideas, it’s worth listening to. Ultimately, dissenting opinions will be drivers of better decision making because they’ll make you think long and hard about the final strategy you decide to act on. In situations where mistakes aren’t well-received, this could mean the difference between a bad outcome and a great one.
Content was prepared by an independent journalist under the direction of Molly Grubb AIF®, CBEC®. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, but we do not guarantee its accuracy, and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of any subjects discussed. A professional advisor should be consulted before any investment decisions are made. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author on the date of post and are subject to change.
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