A few simple concepts about behavior can introduce knowledge-based decision making to leaders. These concepts can be used as a prompt for self-reflection and discussion. Typically, there is some self-deprecation, a few laughs and a fairly open dialogue. Lately, I have found a different atmosphere. The room is quiet, serious and reflective while leaders listen to comments on each of these points.
Why People Behave the Way They Do:
- What is perceived is.
- Perceptions are based on available information.
- In the absence of information, we assume.
- Behavior, no matter how crazy, has a logical basis.
Instinctively, we act on our perceptions, which are informed by our experience. Our willingness to acknowledge the limitations of our experience is essential to knowledge-based decision making. It is also essential, and difficult for many of us, to admit that we may not have all of the information we need to understand why others take a position with which we disagree. Likewise, we must deliberately and intentionally work to understand why others make assumptions about us.
Every day we work with people who come from very different experiences, places in life, and perspectives. We see a shift in their thinking and interaction when they take the time to understand the limitations of their own perspective. We also see this shift after they have a chance to think about the logic behind their perception of “crazy behavior.”
For decades, I have been part of projects specifically designed to bring divergent perspectives together. The last eight months have been different. Groups of leaders are quieter, much more introspective and much less willing to discuss why people behave the way they do. After discussing this reaction with those leaders, it is clear that our public discourse is forcing many of us to rethink our perceptions.
We may all need a moment to think about the assumptions we make and the information we take in that informs our perceptions. We need to work harder at challenging ourselves to gather the information we need to make knowledge-based decisions and take positions based more on facts and less on perceptions. Call me an optimist (many have for years), but I can only hope we are at the bottom and turning a corner. It is hope based upon input.