Are you susceptible to the information avoidance trap?

Subconsciously, we all tend to shy away and not accept information which we find unpleasant or which doesn’t conform to our way of thinking. We assess and perceive facts on how they make us feel rather than accepting and analyzing them logically.

In business, the outcomes of getting into such an information avoidance behavior can spell disaster.

For instance, if the traditional retailers refuse to seek and acknowledge information on how digitalization is impacting the scope of business simply because they feel inherently that they won’t be capable of managing, or find digitalization a nuisance, they are likely to perish eventually. This is somewhat akin to a smoker deliberately avoiding looking at the cancer warning on his pack of cigarettes while fishing out and lighting up one – as if not looking or reading the warning would circumvent him from getting cancer in the long run!

If we delve deeper into this phenomenon, it works at three levels: The first is simply not to seek any information at all; the second is to seek only selective information that conforms to our viewpoints; and the third is to construe it the way which conforms to our patterns.

To avoid falling into this trap, try out the following:

  1. Broaden your information channels: Instead of forever reading the same magazines, journals or viewing the same TV channels, try out different sources regularly. Same applies to the list of people who offer you information. However, in both cases make sure of the authenticity of your sources.
  2. Learn not to forget unpleasant truths: The human mind actively works to push unpleasant facts out of memory. So, if you come across an undisputed piece of information which you find depressing, it is best to make a note of it someplace wherein you are sure to check it out regularly. This way you won’t tend to ignore it and do some research on it when you have more time.
  3. Challenge your own notions: We all have certain hardcore beliefs or ‘proper’ way of doing things or assessing people and situations. Write them down! And then set about scouting for evidence pertaining to them. While you might discover several of your assumptions are correct, you would be surprised that you might find yourself changing your opinions to several others on the basis of your research.
  4. Welcome critics: Yes, instead of refraining from seeking feedback from sources you feel might not paint a fair picture of you, embrace them. No matter if you’re top-shot MD or CEO of a company, there’s always scope for learning and growth.

This exercise would make you a better decision-maker, uncover new opportunities, and assist in reaching your peak – ultimately making you more vigorous and astute both in business and your personal life.

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