We all do daft-as-a brush things from time to time. The occasional slip up is understandable and forgivable. Children teenagers have an excuse – they may not understand the world or have much experience to draw upon.
Lack of common sense can be very damaging to business. Unfortunately good sense is somewhat uncommon. I can remember one of my clients having to let an administrator go because she had none ....... things came to a head when she booked a meeting for him on the same day in Cambridge at 10am and another in Redditch at 11.30am. Since he had no magic carpet to get from one to the other within the arranged times he had to re-arrange, which was a tad embarrassing. He asked her why she had done that when they were a good two hours’ drive apart. Her answer was: “I don’t do driving”. Nor apparently did she do AA route planner.
While some people are better endowed with common sense than others, it can be developed. Here are some tips for improving common sense.
Get into the habit of paying attention to what you are doing. Don’t do it with half your brain. That’s when things go wrong.
Get and process information relevant to what you’re trying to achieve. Ask questions to get useful information that can help you avoid unnecessary problems. People with a lot of common sense ask a lot of questions.
Many errors in judgment are a result of impulsive, hasty decisions. If you know you’ve got a problem with common sense, you need to sacrifice decision speed for decision quality. When in doubt, sleep on it. At least one night, maybe two.
You can usually stop and think about what you are doing before you have to do it. It’s helpful to think about the likely consequences of the choices you have. Learn to notice the connection between your choices and the results they get. Keep evaluating your choices until you get the results you want.
Planning and preparing ahead avoids slip ups. We all know the person who rushes in at the last minute (or late) day after day gasping “It’s the traffic again”. Traffic on the way to work eh? Who’d thought it? All that person needs to do is plan and prepare a little more and leave ten minutes earlier so they don’t arrive at work in a sweating heap.
If you apply the two steps above, you’ll make fewer mistakes, but there will always be some. Mistakes are OK, so long as you learn from them and find a way of not repeating them.
Watch how people with a lot of common sense think and act and learn from them. Emulate their ways of thinking and acting.
Improve your problem solving and knowledge. Read, read, and read. There’s so much interesting and useful stuff out there written by people who have got common sense. Make it easy for yourself. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Get feedback before you send that email, have that conversation, spend that money, or whatever other car crash you’re about to have. Test the decision with your manager, peers, direct reports, or anyone else that can give you honest, constructive feedback. Then, make sure you listen to that feedback.
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