Decisions have to be sound and implemented effectively. Decision-making success is a function of decision quality and implementation. One cognitive bias trap we fall into is called egocentrism bias. This type of bias is when we assign more credit to ourselves for an outcome than an outside party would attribute. For example, “I deserve the bonus this month more than the others on my team because I worked harder.” We put too much emphasis on our own actions. Another form of egocentrism is attributing more blame to ourselves than an outside party would attribute.
The problem is that people are not generally effective at taking advice from others. We don’t mind receiving the advice; we just don’t act on it (have you ever interacted with a teenager?). One way people try to overcome egocentrism is called perspective taking, in which you look at the situation from another person’s perspective. I’m sure you have heard WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). It’s a form of perspective talking, intended to remind the subject of his or her religious beliefs in difficult situations. Perspective taking can be helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to empathy. Our decisions are less effective when we’re not willing to take advice from others and genuinely look at the situation from another’s perspective. You think you know better or best! I don’t know if we can ever really become less egocentric, but we can certainly be more aware of our egocentrism and considerate of others.
How do you overcome egocentrism bias?
1. Be aware of your own egocentrism and seek advice from others.
2. Seek advice from those who don’t support your position and offer conflicting hypotheses.
3. Encourage effective group dynamics with rigorous dialogue and debate.
4. Study your past successes, failures, and those of others. Where could you have made different decisions based on the advice of others?
5. When possible, get feedback on your decision options so you don’t repeat past mistakes. Also build in a mechanism for rapid feedback on decisions you make in the future.
6. Employ unbiased, third-party experts. Outsiders bring a fresh perspective. They do not have the same reference points or emotional attachments to investments and projects. They also lack your preexisting hypotheses and the political egocentrism.
Smarter People Planning protects you from falling into cognitive traps by offering an objective perspective and alerting you to potential pitfalls.
Will you actively seek the advice of others, specifically those who have a conflicting view?