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Difficulty Making Decisions? Become an Expert Problem-Solver in the Next 5 Minutes

Difficulty Making DecisionsDo you have difficulty making decisions, never knowing what’s for the best?

Well you’re in good company – many of us don’t really know our own minds.

Life’s complicated, and getting more and more so every day.

We’re constantly bombarded with advice from all angles, and the availability of information from the Internet only serves to increase the murkiness in our heads!

It’s not too much of a problem if we’re only trying to decide which tie goes with that suit we bought for our cousin’s wedding.

But when it comes to the big stuff, we’re under pressure to work our way through the fog.

If you’re one of the few people who always knows exactly what they want – GREAT!

But most of us could probably benefit from having a strategy that CONSISTENTLY helps us to make quick, well thought-out decisions.

If you’d like to be able to find your way out of the haze and know what you want every time, here’s an amazing technique you can use…

The Art of Decision Making: Put on Your Six Thinking Hats

There was a time when we believed “the skill of thinking” was just something we were born with.

Then along came a physician and author named Edward de Bono, who proposed that we could actually develop our cognitive abilities through practice.

As well as being a man of wise words and the first to coin the term “lateral thinking”, de Bono also gave us his famous “Six Thinking Hats” technique.

The theory behind the Six Thinking Hats is that in order to come to a fully informed decision on any issue, it has to be looked at from ALL ANGLES.

Each of the Hats represent a particular facet of the decision, and they are “worn” one after the other to focus our thinking.

The result is a structured approach that allows the decision-maker (that’s you!) to quickly evaluate potential solutions and be truly happy with the outcome.

Here are the Hats (to illustrate, imagine you’re making the decision to move to a new apartment):

Six Thinking Hats The White Hat symbolises the FACTS – all the information that you have on the subject at the moment and whatever information you can add through research.

  • Apartment A is a two-bed, with pre-installed cable and reasonable rent.
  • Apartment B is in a secure complex and has two parking spaces.

Six Thinking HatsThe Yellow Hat represents all the POSITIVES to be gained. When you wear the Yellow Hat you can only explore the subject with optimism and seek out its value and benefits.

  • Apartment A would give us plenty of space and the money we save on rent could be put toward furnishings.
  • We’d never have to worry about burglaries in Apartment B, and we’d be able to keep both of our cars at the property.

Six Thinking HatsThe Black Hat symbolises any CRITICISMS of the idea. Under the Black Hat you must take a pessimistic view and look at all the difficulties that can arise from your solution.

  • Apartment A is a long way from work and the interior was a little shoddy.
  • Apartment B was really expensive and lacking space.

Six Thinking HatsThe Red Hat is all about EMOTION. When you don the Red Hat you’re free to explore your feelings on the matter and give full reign to whatever emotions it evokes.

  • I really liked Apartment A; it felt cosy and I loved the view from the bedroom.
  • Apartment B felt isolated and claustrophobic, but I got on well with the landlady.

Six Thinking HatsWearing the Green Hat allows you to think about the POSSIBILITIES that your solution might introduce or whether the issue might benefit from fresher or different approaches.

  • If we really like Apartment A, maybe we could find something similar that’s closer to work?
  • Why don’t we check to see if there are larger properties for rent in Apartment B’s complex?

Six Thinking HatsThe Blue Hat CONTROLS the thinking process. You wear this hat to oversee each stage and make sure that the rules are strictly applied – more on this below.

Here’s How to Put the Six Thinking Hats to Work

This technique can be used to figure out the best solution to a problem (like which school to send your kids to) or to quickly evaluate new ideas (like whether to buy a second car or not).

If you have difficulty making decisions as a family it’s even more effective, as it keeps everyone on the same page as you evaluate your options.

Once you have your list of ideas or possible solutions to your problem:

  1. Go through one of your options and “put on” each Thinking Hat (starting with White) to focus your thinking as outlined above.
  2. Whilst wearing each hat, write down your thoughts on paper.
  3. Make sure your thoughts stay relevant to the coloured hat you are wearing at the time.
  4. If you find your mind (or a group member) straying, don the Blue Hat immediately and bring the process back into line (remind yourself what you SHOULD be doing).
  5. When you’ve tried on all the hats, repeat steps 1-4 for the next option.

Once you’re finished, go back over what you have written and you’ll see a very clear picture emerging that will lead you out of the fog and into clear blue skies!

“The Six Thinking Hats: If you can’t decide which hat to put on, wear them all!” [Tweet this]

Practice Makes Perfect!

Now, it’s your turn.

As an exercise, I want you to identify a simple issue that you can tackle RIGHT NOW.

It could be “what to have for dinner?” or “which movie to watch tonight?” – anything at all.

Apply the Six Thinking Hats technique and leave a comment letting me know how you got on.

Don’t wait until a major difficulty arises.

Start practising this technique now and be an expert by the time your next big decision comes along!

Image courtesy of Anne-Lise Heinrichs. If you liked this, help spread the word by sharing it:

David is co-founder of Winter Wisdom and author of Profit From Your Pastimes. He writes about personal development and New Media, and is responsible for the design and management of the Winter Wisdom blog… [more about David]

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