When considering making a large purchase or adding on a service when contracting to do business with someone, you may be asked or even pressured to decide right now whether to say “yes” to making a commitment of resources like allocating time, or buying something. A new sofa, for example. Do you want the sprayed-on protection to prevent staining in the event of a spill? What about the upgraded detail on the feet? If you hadn’t thought about those things before going to the furniture shop, you may not know how to answer those questions. You may even be tempted to just answer “yes” to get the salesperson to stop badgering you.
But will the fabric protection off-gas, which could trigger migraines in you or your spouse for several weeks? Will it make the fabric feel less soft? Do you even eat on your sofa for that to be worthy of the expense? And does anyone ever pay attention the the detail on the furniture legs?
The thing is, unless your sofa has completely fallen apart, you may not have to make a decision right now. You could go home, think about it, do some research, ask your friends or family what they think. Maybe if you wait a month or two, you can passively collect the information you need to make a more informed decision. Passively collect means you have something in the back of your mind, in this example, a new sofa. You then unconsciously tune into that frequency, which then allows you to pick up on information newly available to you.
When your “sofa buying ears” are on, you will suddenly catch a casual office conversation about someone buying a new sofa and liking a particular fabric or spot an article you would have otherwise involved about off-gassing. This passive information collection is cheap – you don’t need to do anything special to catch these events other than pay attention – but it can pay off big time in providing you more and higher quality information, so you can reach a better decision.
So, delaying a decision could often be the right decision. And it’s relatively easy to do. Simply stop and pause when faced with a difficult decision. Consciously ask yourself if it must be made now or if there is a benefit in waiting until you are better informed or otherwise feeling more confident about the decision. Also make sure to consider the cost of delaying—sometimes it can be near zero, other times it can be non-negligible, e.g. a trip down to the shopping mall, which you only go to once a quarter due to the traffic. It’s usually not possible to know with absolute certainty what’s the perfect timing for the decision, and some cases are more clear cut than others. As other tools, take this tool as a situational tool, suitable for some situations, and avoided in others.