How to make informed buying and voting decisions in a sea of fake news

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In a world filled with so many opportunities, choices and facts, there are also equal amounts, if not more, of biased news, fake news and fads, which now make it that much harder to make sound decisions, buy or purchase anything or vote with confidence.

Many people are vying for our attention, our spend and our votes. And it seems many will do whatever it takes to ‘win’ us over to their side, even if it means lying and deceiving us. Think about 10,000+ lies accounted for from the current US president in just over two years in office.

So who (or what) are we to believe?

This is tricky.

First, here is an interesting fact about human: we are psychologically motivated to be satisfied with our decisions. We want to feel certain we are right because the alternative is potentially threatening or humiliating. Many salespeople are taught to never denigrate a competitor your client or prospect is using because what you are doing is denigrating your client’s buying decision.

Secondly, humans are biased towards looking for information that confirms their already held opinions and beliefs. Social media platforms work with whatever we show interest in — by clicking on a link or searching for a term — to show us more about the same thing. So when you combine these two factors, the outcome can be frightening.

However, if our choices are informed by trustworthy data, sources and people, we increase our chances of making good decisions that lead to good outcomes.

Whether we are buying something, making a new career choice, entering a new market, launching a new business or product, choosing to spend the rest of our lives with someone, or voting in a politician and government, we want the best outcome for ourselves at the very least. So we look for information that will support our decisions, our biases, our goals and our dreams.

When our decisions affect only ourselves the decision-making process is much easier, because we only have ourselves to consider. But when it comes to our families, our teams, our electorate and our nation, things are made a whole lot trickier because of the scale of the decisions being made and how they can impact others. It’s very hard to relate to multi-billion-dollar spends, social systems you do not understand, and things outside of your lived experience, for example. This is why people get scared of things they don’t know or understand and why some businesses, groups and political parties prey on this with their scare tactics and appeal to self-interest.

With the Australian federal election campaign in full swing, I have been amazed at the sea of biased and fake news, lies and propaganda being spread through all media channels including the mainstream media. It is extraordinary to see what is unfolding before us and how it is playing to our basest selves, which is not pretty, especially on Twitter, Facebook and WeChat.

Preying on people’s fears in the hope they don’t dig any deeper and just accept things at face value is rife in this election and it takes a lot for anyone to rise above the fray and stay rational and calm so as to base their decisions on facts and information that often involves complex concepts and systems.

I am wondering how people in the Australian electorates are making decisions about who and what to vote for.

What are they relying on? Is it trustworthy data, clear policies, lies, false advertisements, their own feelings, their intuition, hearsay, what others say, the likeability of a person, group think or echo chambers, celebrity endorsements, spin, what they have always done before, fear of the new, or a combination of all these?

It’s hard to say.

All I know from experience is that when it comes to important decisions, I like to rely upon more than one source of data, and I like to get my data from reliable sources, not hearsay and propaganda.

So whether you are buying something, thinking about your next career move, implementing a new business system or voting, here is a checklist that might help.

A. The offer

  1. Look for evidence.
  2. Ask the three decision questions: is the offer life threatening, morally threatening or unhealthy?

B. The who

  1. Purpose and credibility
    • What do they stand for? For example, morals, values, ethics.
    • Do they focus on people, planet and profits?
    • What are their credentials?
  2. Behaviours and personal conduct
    • Do they answer your questions clearly or use spin and slogans?
    • Do they talk over you or do they listen to you?
    • Do they engage in ‘gaslighting’?
    • Do they say one thing and then do another?
    • How do they treat their people, suppliers, constituents, customers?
    • Do they follow up and keep their word?

C. The comparison

  1. Apply the above filters to the competitors and line them up to make a comparison.

All the very best.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

NOW READ: One in five business owners don’t know who Bill Shorten is: Is small business out of touch with politics?

NOW READ: Are you stopping success by having too many choices on the table?


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