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From Indecision to Decision in Five Stages

Susan L Reid

No one enjoys indecision:

IndecisionNot the person who's feeling indecisive and not the person who's waiting for a decision to be made. Once indecision sets in, forward movement is stalled. Progress is halted, and frustration is inevitable.

No matter what the situation—whether a person is trying to close a sale or wresting with the choice of which house to purchase—the path from indecision to decision follows the same five stages.

The good news is that you can help almost anyone move from indecision to decision easily and quickly by understanding each stage and knowing what to do during each one.

Helping Someone Move from Indecision to Decision in Five Stages

1. Acknowledge that there is a problem.

As soon as you realize someone is having trouble making a decision, acknowledge it. Don't ignore the indecision or bypass it with suggestions. Simply say, "I can see that something is bothering you," or “Is there something you’re not sure about?”

At this point, let the other person speak. Don't ask if you can help. Just acknowledge the indecision and wait for a response.

Those in this stage do not intend to make a decision yet. Pushing for outcome will drive them deeper into indecision.

2. Uncover internal dialogue.

What's behind the indecision? Now is the time to learn what the person is telling himself about the problem. You might ask, “Tell me a little about what you’re thinking right now.”

Again, just let the person speak. This is not the time to offer suggestions, alternatives, or counter arguments. This is the time to take mental notes and empathize.

Individuals in this stage are not even thinking about a solution. They are trying to figure out what's wrong.

OPening dialogue3. Communicate the dilemma.

State the dilemma as you understand it. For example, “I see. On one hand, you'd like to have a home in the country where you can raise your children in relative safety, and, on the other hand, you’d like to have a home in the city so you can expose them to cultural events.”

Once individuals in this stage think you have a solid grasp of their predicament, they will consider making a decision.

4. Make it possible for a decision to be made.

You've already acknowledged that there is a problem. You know what the person’s internal dialogue is and have communicated the dilemma. Now it's time to ask what would make it possible for the person to make a decision. You might ask, "If you could wave your realistic magic wand, what would the best possible outcome be?" or "If you could wave your realistic magic wand, where would you be living six months from now?"

Those in this stage are ready to take action. They are looking for a solution.

5. Deliver the solution.

Now is the time for you to help find the perfect solution to the person’s problem. Offer options. Explore possibilities. Let him know you are in this together.

Individuals in this stage are eager to make a decision and ready to take action.

Having trouble making up one’s mind is a universal experience. Everyone knows how frustrating indecision feels. But not everyone knows about these five stages.

By understanding and following them, you will be able to help others identify where they are stuck, provide them with perfect solutions, and move them, stage by stage, from indecision to decision.

Copyright © 2008 by Susan L. Reid

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Copyright ©2008 by Susan L. Reid, DMA

Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses, and is the award-winning author of Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success. If you are ready to take the first steps in owning your business, then get instant access to your own free PDF copy of “Doing What You Love: Multiple Streams of Passion” at 

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