‘Paralysis’ In business

By Klaus Döring

Analysis paralysis occurs when a decision-maker overthinks or overanalyzes a situation, halting the ability to move forward with action. This inevitably slows down progress as they spend more time than they need trying to reach a decision. This paralysis causes delays that negatively affect business outcomes.

Sometimes referred to as “choice paralysis,” analysis paralysis causes you to have an intense, emotional reaction when faced with making a decision. While it’s not a medical diagnosis, it’s a symptom often tied to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Analysis paralysis is a colloquial phrase used to describe the feeling of being unable to make a decision due to overthinking a problem. This often happens when you’re dealing with too many variables and continually researching solutions, instead of taking action and making a decision.

The root cause of analysis paralysis? Anxiety. Making a decision is hard—what if you make the wrong decision? This kind of thinking causes analysis paralysis. That’s because our brain’s goal is to make the right choice every time, even if there’s not actually a perfect solution. Indecisiveness can be a symptom of impostor syndrome—if you feel like you need to be a perfectionist at work, making a major decision can send you into analysis paralysis.

A doctor would explain the term paralysis as “loss of power of movement or sensation”. Are you doing business? Do you feel paralyzed sometimes?

People-pleasing involves a desire to make people happy at any cost, at times even at the cost of our own happiness.

When we are expected to make a decision that might impact others, especially those we love or care about, the weight of our choice can feel particularly heavy.

Follow-ups seem to become the new national character. Indifferent people in our surroundings let us feel like that daily. Indifference seems to become one of the vagaries in today’s society. Of course, the exception proves the rule!

We try to get an appointment, but -let me call it- “the other side” seems to be very busy sending text messages and letting me wait. We really don’t want to encroach on other people’s time, but we mostly get the same answer: Please try again tomorrow.

Many times I just try to hold my breath while observing certain employees, who should be in the service of the people, instead of reading a magazine, doing private talks over the phone, (again) doing (important?) text messages, and getting down-right cheeky, if we start another follow-up. Suddenly we learn, “that the boss is out of town.” GRABE!

How many good ideas and highly appreciated business deals had gone with the wind because of uncomprehending, unsympathetic and unappreciated everyday deals between my fellow creatures and me? Honestly, sometimes I also experienced a “terrible loss of power of movement or sensation” while observing lost chances.

If you notice yourself overanalyzing important decisions or spending a substantial amount of time worrying about making the wrong choice, these strategies can help you move forward, take action, and make better decisions.

Set yourself a deadline to make a decision. If you have no timeline for when a decision needs to be made, you can spend a large amount of time waffling back and forth between different options, and ultimately never making a decision. The best course of action? Set yourself a deadline or a specific time frame for when the decision needs to be made.

Narrow down your options early. If you have an overwhelming amount of options, get rid of some right away. Figure out what you want your expected outcome of this decision to be, and then eliminate any options that don’t fit the qualifications of that outcome.

Practice making decisions quickly. Impulsivity isn’t always a bad thing. If you are constantly plagued by analysis paralysis, practice making small decisions fast. The inconsequential things like deciding where to eat dinner or what path you take to get to work will help you be more decisive when you’re making bigger decisions.

Use a framework for your decision making process: Believe it or not, there is a whole framework for the decision making process. Following a step-by-step guide can help take away some of the cognitive heavy work that’s required to make a big decision.

If you find yourself in a state of analysis paralysis, it is important to understand that there are steps you can take to slow that process down or stop it altogether. The ruminating thoughts, confusion and worry might make it feel nearly impossible but we can have a sense of agency in these moments.

Allow yourself to become an observer of your thoughts and be honest if it feels like you are ruminating on the same thoughts over and over.

Rigid thinking, people-pleasing, and fear can lead to our inability to make a clear decision. Remind yourself that it is OK to be flexible and imperfect.

Oftentimes, our fear of a poor outcome can feel heavy and permanent and it is often not the case.

When we are fearful of a potential outcome it is usually because we are afraid we won’t be able to recover, that we won’t be able to navigate the path well if things become painful.

What feels dangerous to us is often simply uncomfortable. Remind yourself of times when you have handled moments of challenge, stress and discomfort and bring that into your view of self as you navigate the decision ahead of you.

Much of what can lead to analysis paralysis is reaching for information, perspective, and the opinion of others.

Make an intentional choice to stop asking people what they think or what they might do. It is likely that you have the information you need, along with life experience and insight, to know what the next best choice would be.

Analysis paralysis often involves looking out into the future to anticipate the outcomes of our choices.

In doing this, we are trying to avoid or minimize experiencing pain but the reality is we often can’t predict outcomes. Allow yourself to be present and take the next best step.

Making smaller, more immediate choices at the moment can allow us to pivot and adjust as necessary without the pressure to have all of the answers.


Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook or  LinkedIn or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .