I’ve noticed that people – myself included – can behave in ways that sometimes appear to be ‘irrational’ or unpredictable. It seems that our personal biases and expectations can influence our decisions, with self-justification getting in the way of clear thinking.
To help all Project Managers, here are some of the strange behaviours you might see during the course of any project endeavour. Knowing about these effects will help us to understand and manage the expectations of our project stakeholders:
* The Endowment Effect
People attach a higher value to things they own. This leads to trouble in project contract negotiations, when the negotiator will try to hold on to things that are already agreed, even though there may be better options available.
* Confirmation Bias
People will search for or interpret information in a way that confirms their preconceptions. Don’t expect to be able to change someone’s mind easily, as they will ignore your carefully presented evidence if it falls outside their own biases.
* The Bandwagon Effect
Doing things because others do them. Ever been waiting to cross the road at a ‘red’ pedestrian crossing and then seen 5 other people stride into the road? Seeing other people taking action seems to give us permission to join them, so we irresistibly cross the road with them instead of waiting for the ‘green’ light.
* Framing Problems
Presenting the same data in different ways leads people to make different conclusions. We also assume other people see things the same way as ourselves.
Having some knowledge of human behaviour can help us to use the most appropriate communication strategy, tools and techniques.