Take Your Time Making Decisions

Nov 21, 2023
I [taught] myself how to breathe slower. How to slow things down. How to not answer somebody instantaneously… You can always move slower. The world will basically wait for you if you’re deciding something consequential. And you can always say, ‘I’d like to think about that a little bit.’ So the only reason to feel panicked is if you’re panicking yourself, and that’s your fault. You don’t have to do that. You can take your time, you can weigh things. It’s very infrequently that the timing has to be instantaneous.

— Steve Schwarzman, Co-founder and CEO of Blackstone

At one point or another, we’re all faced with exploding offers or other time pressure to close a deal. Maybe the car dealer says they’ll sell the car for a low price if you agree to buy it on the spot. Or a classic Mark Cuban tactic on Shark Tank to give entrepreneurs 30 seconds to accept his offer, or he’s out.

There isn’t unlimited time, and acting quickly has its merits, but there’s often much more time than we believe to decide. Obviously, Schwarzman's advice in decision-making in private equity is more nuanced when it’s generalized. Still, the idea is the same: rarely do we need instantaneous timing when it comes to consequential decisions.

Being prepared and taking your time doesn’t mean waiting for perfect information. You can’t analyze all possible outcomes. But slow down. Take your time. Find the best alternative to the negotiated offer (BATNA). Sleep on it. Make a decision when you have 70% of the information you need to make that decision.