Go to It! Stop Arguing and Start ‘Ooching’

Which job do I take? Should I break up with my boyfriend? Should I buy those shoes? If you struggle with decisions like these, you’re not alone. “When it comes to making decisions, our brains are flawed instruments,” according to Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the upcoming Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and in Work. They’ve surveyed the most recent research on decision making and formulated new strategies for making better choices. Here, they explain “ooching,” one of the tools they’ve come up with:

In making decisions, people often agonize over their options, considering and reconsidering their strengths and weaknesses. But often we’re wiser to stop thinking and start “ooching.”

To ooch is to construct small experiments to test one’s hypothesis. (Apparently “ooch” is a common expression in parts of the South. Maybe it’s a blend of “inching” and “scooting”?) And sometimes ooching can quiet a fierce debate.

Take the experience of Gabe Gabrielson. A real estate broker and dad who lives in San Jose, Gabrielson has a nine-year-old son named Colin. Like many nine year-olds, Colin frequently finds himself in disagreement with parental policies. In the spring of 2011, for example, he protested Gabe’s policy that he get fully dressed before coming down to breakfast. Gabe didn’t particularly care what Colin wore at the breakfast table, but he worried that if Colin didn’t dress first, he’d wind up late for school. “But I’m more comfortable in my PJs!” Colin argued.

After a few debates that left both of them feeling frustrated, Gabe decided to change strategy. He announced, “Okay, Colin, we’ll try it your way for three days. But if you’re late to school any of those days, then we go back to the old system.”

Colin, amazed by the change in response, aced the trial run. He wore his PJs and stayed punctual. As a result, the new practice stuck, and both sides are happier with the outcome. For Gabe, there’s less arguing, and for Colin, there’s the satisfaction of a successful protest.

That’s the power of ooching. Instead of arguing about whether it was wise to let Colin wear his pajamas to breakfast, Gabe simply gave it a trial run.

How many times in life do we waste our time debating decisions that we could test? To ooch is to ask, Why guess when we can know?

To learn more about Decisive, visit heathbrothers.com.


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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and in Work
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