Decision making principles - two men discussing work

Types of decision making

Our ability to deal with situations and make decisions can be helped by understanding four decision making principles.

There are times when we can decide on a course of action because we have some degree of control over the situation. At other times, the circumstances are out of our control and there is nothing we can do. This is important to realise because our ability to deal with situations and make decisions can be helped by understanding four decision making principles.


Four principles of the decision making process

  • Given
  • Input
  • Negotiate
  • Self


‘Given’ decision making principle

A Given is something in life where we have no decision making power at all.

If you think about places like home or work, there are some ‘givens’ where we have no decision making power and no input into the decision. For example, we need to turn up to work and pay our bills or there will be consequences.


‘Input’ decision making principle

Input is where we have some avenue for input but someone else makes the final decision. Applying for jobs is a good example. We provide our work history, references, answer questions, which is input. However, the decision making power is still 100 per cent with the employer.


‘Negotiate’ decision making principle

Negotiate is exactly that: each party has equal decision making power. In relationships, many things need to be negotiated. Parties can agree to allocate responsibility in line with the strengths of each person. In those cases, you can negotiate for one party to make all decisions within that area. However, other decisions outside of that area will still need to be negotiated.


‘Self’ decision making principle

Self is where you make 100 per cent of the decision. You may, or may not take into account input from others. For example, most likely you decided what to wear today without consulting with others. Every day we make many decisions that fall into this category.


Using the four decision making principles

A ‘given’ might occur that makes us upset, such as an economic downturn resulting in a company closing and everyone losing their job – in this situation you have no input and no decision making power. So, try not to spend energy trying to fight things you cannot change. Instead, find ways to accept the ‘givens’ and ways you can deal with it better.

Sometimes we have ‘input’ towards decisions. Although our input may not necessarily influence the decision maker’s final verdict, it’s worth putting forward a well thought out case and trying to appeal to their interests.

In a ‘negotiate’ decision scenario, it’s important to consider the mutual benefit for all parties involved, ensuring that the final decision suits everyone’s best interests. By communicating openly and showing a willingness to compromise with one another, you are more likely to reach a win-win outcome for all parties.

‘Self’ decision making allows you to choose what factors to take into account and ultimately, control the final verdict. It’s important to take the time to consider ‘self’ decisions carefully as having the freedom to self-manage decisions includes taking responsibility for the consequences.


Why is decision making so important?

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are impacted by decisions that are “givens” or “input” and spend too much time and effort in attempting to have influence in areas where we have zero decision making power.

So, when it comes to making decisions, we need to be honest with ourselves about where the decision making power actually sits. It’s important to remember that there are just some aspects of all our lives where others make the decisions, and we just have to live with it.

What we can decide, is how we are going to manage our responses to those decisions outside of our control, and if we need help to manage this, it is our responsibility to access that help.


If you need to talk, give one of our MensLine Australia counsellors a call on 1300 78 99 78 or access online chat.