Using the Four Styles of Decision-Making to Influence Decisions

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

There's a sales pitch or a big meeting coming up, and you're preparing. You probably know some of the people in the meeting, but you may not know them that well. In fact, you may not know some of them at all. How do you make sure that your pitch will be well-received?

That's where understanding the ways people make decisions can help you out. Emergentics International, an organizational development consulting company, has defined the four broad categories into which most styles of decision-making fall. These might seem like broad categories, but the brain science behind the Emergentics profiles proves their classifications:

Social: Social thinkers make decisions intuitively and lend a lot of credence to the social aspect of the situation. If you've ever heard someone say they made a decision because of a “gut feeling,” that's a clue they're probably comfortable making decisions base on their social acumen. 

Conceptual: Conceptual decision-makers like to understand the “big picture.” These people are more interested in the long-term end product than how you get there. They gravitate to stories and vivid future-state descriptions and can usually connect-the-dots without a great level of detail.

Analytical: Analytical people want to know the “how” and the “so what.” While some analytical thinkers have a preference for numbers, they all have a preference to walk through an idea step-by-step, reviewing the assumptions and weighing the pros and cons before making a final decision.

Structural: People with a preference for Structural thinking want to know the roadmap. More than the end point, they're interested in creating an orderly process and making sure the details are buttoned up.

Knowing this, you can see why an idea presented successfully in one forum might fall flat in another. Executives who are conceptual decision-makers may give you great feedback on a pitch that colorfully portrays a five-year vision of the company's future. Give the same pitch to an executive with a preference in Analytical decision-making, and they're going to be critical of a lack of data and reference points. 

Tailoring your presentations to the specific preferences of your audience is critical. If you're presenting to a large group, be sure to include something for everyone. Spend a little time on each thinking style–include references or expert opinions along with a clear vision of the future-state for the social and conceptual thinkers. In addition, add in step-by-step details with reasonable timelines for the structural and analytical thinkers.

You don't have to fundamentally change your entire pitch, but including something that helps each type of thinker understand what you're proposing will help.

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photo credit: hans s via photopin cc

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