Understand How People Make Decisions

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 2b
June 15, 2017

By Dan Coughlin


In 1995 I first learned the DISC Method, and I found it to be intriguing.

It was about how different people have different needs that have to be met before they make a decision. Over the past almost quarter-century I’ve seen many, many different ways of explaining this topic including using the four main characters from the I Love Lucy series: Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel. Here is my attempt.

Four Types of Decision-makers

I see four types: The Quick Decision-Maker, The Relationship Decision-Maker, The Logical Decision-Maker, and the Conscientious Decision-Maker.

Here is what is most important to each type and the question the person needs answered:

The Quick Decision-Maker

Speed is most important. The question is, “What are my options, and which one am I going to go with right now?”

The Relationship Decision-Maker

Chemistry is most important. The question is, “Do I feel good about working with this person?”

The Logical Decision-Maker

Logic is most important. The question is, “Does it make sense to do this?”

The Conscientious Decision-Maker

A clear conscience is most important. The question is, “Will this be the right thing to do?”

What type of decision-maker are you?

So what drives your decision-making process?

Is it speed? Is it imperative that you make a decision right now? Do you hate the thought of leaving the meeting without making a definite decision?

Do you have to get to know the person you’re buying from and have a good feeling about the person before you will say yes?

Do you need to look at data and timelines and see how all the pieces are going to fit together before you make a decision?

Do you need to talk with references and see proof that the decision is the right thing to do?

If you know what type of decision-maker you are, you don’t have to waste time on stuff you don’t need in order to make a decision. You can just reach for what you need. A quick decision-maker needs to know the options, a relationship decision-maker needs to get to know the person, a logical decision-maker needs to know information, and a conscientious decision-maker needs evidence.

You can also let other people know what your needs are so they will be able to help you get what you need in order to make a decision.

How do you meet the needs of the different types of decision-makers?

Imagine you are the head of a project and you have four team members, each of whom is a different type of decision-maker. How do you meet all of their needs at the same time? Let’s say you have to tell your boss in a week what your team has decided to do.

You could say to your team members,

“We don’t have forever. We need to make a decision quickly. Let’s narrow our options down to three choices, and then make a choice in two days. (For the Quick Decision-Maker)

“However, we don’t need to make a decision tonight. Here is the data we have gathered on this topic. Here is a flowchart that shows various approaches, and the timeline it would take to do each of them. (For the Logical Decision-Maker)

“Here is a set of names, phone numbers, and email addresses for seven people who have tried different ways of doing this project. You are welcome to call them and ask about how the project went for them. (For the Conscientious Decision-Maker)

“And here is the contact information for the four candidates that we could possibly work with on this project. You are welcome to contact them and get to know them if you want.” (For the Relationship Decision-Maker)

You are not forcing anyone to do what is not important to him or her, but you are meeting the needs of each of them.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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