What Happens BEFORE a Conversation Affects Your Choices

You’re walking down the hall to a meeting. You pass a colleague who is berating one of his direct reports about being late on a project. You pick up your pace because the negative energy is making you tense, plus you don’t want to get dragged into this situation.

Too late: you’ve already been affected!

Research shows this fleeting experience of rudeness will trigger your anchor bias and color the choices you’re about to make in your totally unrelated meeting.

Spend three minutes to discover why that happens and what you can do about it.


Binyamin Cooper, one of the leaders of the Carnegie Mellon University study mentioned in the video, explained, “Making the wrong decision at a critical moment means that people end up spending too much time going down the wrong path. If there’s not enough time to realize the error and make up for it, this could be deadly.”

Yes: it’s frightening to know that a random encounter in a hallway can have a far-reaching impact on how you think. That it’s made you want to glom onto the first idea you heard: to soothe yourself by making a quick decision and acting on it.

If you’re like me, you need to shake off the willies this gives you.

Be aware the next time you need to explore options for solving a problem, or different courses of action you and your team can take to capitalize on an opportunity. Use one or both of the two techniques — perspective taking and information gathering — to avoid letting anchor bias sink your success.