Archive for October, 2011

Think your customers make rational decisions?

Published by admin on October 26th, 2011

The Quick Skinny:

  • There are no rational decisions
  • There is an emotion behind every single decision we make, no matter how trivial.
  • Help your customers imagine experiences…for our brains scarcely knows the difference

Ever have someone say “you need to take the emotion out of it so you can make a rational decision”?  Sorry, it is not possible. It is impossible for your customers to make a decision to do business with you based purely on logic.   In fact,  it’s not possible for your customers (or any human) to decide anything by reason alone.  It is simply not possible to suspend emotion in favor of intellect.  Not only do our emotions NOT keep us from making rational decisions, but it is impossible to decide without them.  Blame evolution.  Jonah Lehrer, in his book How We Decide, makes two excellent points:

“The orbitofrontal cortex…is responsible for integrating visceral emotions into the decision making process.  It connects the feelings generated by the ‘primitive’ brain – areas like the brain stem and the amygdala…to the stream of conscious thought. When a person is [confronted with a choice]…[the OFC] has already assessed the alternatives-this analysis takes place outside of conscious awareness- and converted that assessment into a positive emotion….”If it weren’t for our emotions, reason wouldn’t exist at all.”

What’s even crazier is to consider whether or not we consciously make decisions at all.  Consider the following passage from Steven Pinker, author of  The Stuff of Thought and professor of evolutionary psychology at Harvard:

“Another startling conclusion from the science of consciousness is that the intuitive feeling we have that there’s an executive “I” that sits in a control room of our brain, scanning the screens of the muscles, is an illusion.  Consciousness turns out to consist of a maelstrom of events distributed across the brain.  These events compete for attention, and as one process outshouts the others, the brain rationalizes the outcome after the fact and concocts the impression that a single self was in charge all along.”

Those competing interests emanate from our pre-evolutionary limbic brain, and all decisions, no matter how trivial, are filtered through the grid of our lifetime of emotional experiences. The only real “choice” we have in taking control of our own lives is to be ever mindful of the intent we channel in the moment.  When we are not mindful and vigilant, we fall victim to whatever emotion “outshouts the others” which is where most people operate, and frankly, where all of us operate most of the time with a few exceptions. 

Without arguing for exceptions, understanding  this  is how people rise to power and how those who are in power stay in power.  It’s also how great brands are built and how they fall.  It works for big business and small.  And it’s also how I’m going to help you win customers and grow your business.  Contact me and Let’s talk.