July 28, 2020
When you are emotional, be careful about what you say and what you do.
Imagine your friend comes to you asking for advice on some grave personal issue he is facing. If you had to help him, you would think about the problem from multiple perspectives, plotting different scenarios. Ultimately you would help him make a much better decision than he would have made on his own.
Now, flip the scenario.
Instead of your friend, you are the one who is facing the same issue. You will very likely not be able to make the same objective decision you recommended to your friend in the first place. Why?
By definition, when you are objective about any matter, you don’t let your personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice influence your decision. Your view of the issue is based on facts and unbiased.
However, because you are too near to the problem, you are emotionally entangled with the issue. Whenever emotions come into play, objectivity is impaired, and quality of decision making suffers.
What is the conclusion?
When making decisions for others, your emotions are in check. However, when it comes to your own choices, emotions sidetrack you.
There is a reason why doctors don’t usually treat their near and dear.
The objectivity in our decision-making comes from our ability to distance ourselves from the problem emotionally. When we move away from a first-person view to a third-person perspective, we create distance with our emotions.
Let’s assume you are facing a crucial decision-Maybe you want to ask for a raise, or you want to change your job or want to change your major at university ending a relationship. You feel stuck, conflicted, unable to decide.
You need help to make an objective decision. There are two ways to deal with such a dilemma.
- Reach out to people you trust and who have your best interests to help you make the decision. Since they are not emotionally connected the way you are to the issue, they can evaluate all possible scenarios and share a perspective that could help you.
- Imagine yourself in the third person and look at the problem. The third person could be someone you admire and respect. It could be your dad, a smart colleague, or a mentor. Ask yourself, what would that person do in the same situation, and decide based on that.
Bringing in a third-person viewpoint will create a much-needed distance from your emotions to assess your options objectively, and make the best decision for yourself. The third person viewpoint could be that of a real person, or you could be thinking from a third-person perspective.