The primaries are over so now our political attention is turning to the all-important debates, but will they make a difference in how we vote?
Jonathan Gifford, author of the new book Blindsided: how business and society are shaped by our unpredictable and irrational behaviour, says, “Most of us are already wedded to one party or the other and will resist even the most compelling rational arguments, so watching the debates in unlikely to change how we vote.”
Why? Humans are wired to make decisions based on “gut feelings” instead of reason. With an in depth look at the world’s more memorable events, Gifford shows us how and why we should change our decision making process. “Individuals will generally be driven by instinct,” explains Gifford, “but as a society we can work together to make rational decisions to protect our people and our resources.”
Blindsided shows why we got it wrong and offers an insightful look into getting it right:
- What really drives our decision-making – people are perfectly capable of making “rational” decisions, listing pros and cons and weighing potential benefits, but in everyday life we rarely do this: emotion and instinct rule.
- What was I thinking? – because we see ourselves as rational beings, we believe the logical explanations that we have created for our instinctive behavior after the event.
- I musn’t miss out! – our instinctive herd mentality has us rushing out to get whatever it is our neighbor is getting, without considering the likely consequences.
- If I don’t get it, somebody else will – if our neighbor is helping himself to something essential to survival (like water, food or pasture) then our instincts very sensibly drive us to join in. Here is the origin of the Tragedy of the Commons.
- I thought we were in this together – society is blindsided when it fails to realize a significant part of the community is so disenchanted that it would rather smash up what exists than play by the rules.
- Know Thyself – we cannot turn off our emotional and instinctive drives, but our rationality allows us to reflect on whether we are making wise choices – to step back and think, ‘Is this really the right decision?’ (ideally before, not after, we are blindsided)
- What we do best – our emotional and intuitive thinking is, in fact, our greatest strength: uderstanding what other people are feeling; having remarkable, unpredictable ideas. Machines can’t do this; we can.
Think about this. Be honest with yourself, and make your choice based on rationale thought.
Jonathan Gifford is a businessman, historian and author whose writing focuses on the human aspects of leadership and management. He has worked for a number of major media organizations in Great Britain including The Guardian, Sunday Express, the Mail on Sunday and launched the award winning BBC History Magazine. He is also the author of History Lessons; what business and management can learn from the great leaders of history and 100 Great Leadership Ideas. He lives in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom with his wife and two children.