Your Gut Feeling probably is experienced when your autonomic nervous system acts or reacts to something.
This is an unconscious control system for your important visceral functions such as heart rate, digestion, arousal, breathing, salivation, sweating, pupil dilation and more. Your body reacts to a situation both externally and internally and sends signals into that limbic system and throughout your cognitive processing system that almost certainly seeps into your rational decision-making.
For almost all people the information you process in your brain is impacted by the information you process in your body. You may be taking the steps to make a rational decision but you cannot easily escape the impact that other factors such as your emotions regardless of how much you try to repress or ignore them.
This information applies to leaders who make and implement both successful and unsuccessful decisions. It is almost impossible for anyone to make a rational decision without the influence of emotions whether or not there is an awareness of these emotions
Emotionally Rational Decisions
Our brains evolved to be efficient.
This efficiency included developing a number of cognitive biases, a limitation in our thinking processes that causes us to think a certain way about a situation and not be aware that we are bringing this bias into the situation.
One example of a cognitive bias is the negative bias (the need to look at situations as inherently bad or dangerous so as to fight or take flight when faced with danger). Most people, even those people with a healthy brain, focus on the negative because our brains are still wired for that bias.
Our brain is constantly scanning for threats and processing what it finds based on our experiences and positioning.
This is true whether you are faced with a dangerous stranger or slick marketing campaign from a key competitor. These cognitive bias can causes you to hone in on danger and lose your view of the bigger picture.
Your awareness of the role your emotions play in everything from evaluating, planning and making decisions and more, is an important consideration in your rational decision-making.
Since you cannot avoid this emotional input you can consciously consider your emotions as in play and take steps to weigh, measure and monitor them as part of the process. Many of todays leaders and a growing number of business schools recognize the importance of tapping into Emotional Intelligence as a component of business leadership.
4 Steps For More Emotionally Realized Rational Decisions
1. Be Mindful That Your Perspective Includes Your Emotions:
Awareness of the fact that your emotions impact your rational decisions allows you to consider what role they could be playing.
2. Identify the Emotions In Play:
When you become mindful of the full range of factors impacting the rational decision making process you can improve your odds of managing all factors.
For example if you recently had a personal health scare or suffered a business loss or success your risk taking or risk aversion emotions may be more prominent in your decision-making.
3. Manage Your Emotional Reactions:
Once you are aware and can identify your emotions you increase your ability to manage the role your emotions play.
In practice this step may involve walking away from a decision when you realize you cannot manage or counter balance your emotions. For example making an important decision hours after you received personally bad news may not always make for the most rational of decisions no matter how much you try to deceive yourself that it will.
4. Do Not Go It Alone:
Bring others into the rational decision making process.
Although everyone brings their own irrational perspective to the table when you include the perspective of people with diverse experiences and emotions and really listen to them you can minimize your own sampling bias errors. Diversity is an important consideration.
Diversity of perspective means not selecting only those who share similar experiences and perspectives. A diversity of age, gender, culture, belief and perspective can provide a counterbalance to individual emotions.
Every day your biases, past experiences, feelings and emotions play a role in how you perceive the world and how you act upon it.
The emotionally intelligent business leader takes steps to learn to identify and manage emotions. This takes practice and awareness of how you think and what impacts your rational thinking is the first step in implementing this practice.