The Use of Credibility in Decision Making

The Challenged Mind*

When it comes to making decisions, whether it be about a purchase, a policy, or a candidate, our brain has the capacity to process information inputs and outputs in different ways. In the book Sales Mind, Helen Kensett explains that our brain has two primary departments for decision making: The Feeler and The Thinker. Very generally speaking, The Feeler represents our gut reactions while The Thinker relies more on processing patterns and experiences.

The Feeler (85%) The Thinker (15%)
–      Faster thought process

–      Emotional Instinct

–      Gut reactions

–      Survival instinct

–      Intuition

–      Unconscious reactions

–    Slower rational response

–    Analysis and computation

–    Deciphering patterns

–    Generation of IDEAS

–    Logical thoughts

–    Conscious deciphering


The Feeler is particularly interesting because according to Helen, over 85% of our decisions are made with this department. There are many reasons why this could be the case, but an interesting one is that our mind has its own natural defense system, or system of malware, where it chooses to consume the least amount of ideas possible to make a decision.

This natural mechanism is similar to the basic law of consumer behavior, whereas consumers look for the path of minimum effort to maximize returns. Because The Thinker is slower in processing information, much like an older PC, it can overload easily, forcing The Feeler, which is the faster processor, to accept a larger role within the mind.

Decision Making “Hot Buttons”

As our society becomes an incrementally larger producer of information, and our minds remain biologically stagnant in processing and retaining that information, The Feeler becomes increasingly important in everyday decision making. There are many tools that we can use to make quicker judgments, and Helen lists a few of them under a platform she calls The Passive Buyer Impression (PBI). This platform lists ten “hot buttons” that create immediate neural impressions through The Feeler when meeting someone, talking to someone, reading something, or generating any sort of input needed to make a judgment call or decision.

One of these hot buttons is Authority which, in this context, is synonymous with “Creditability.” Here is how Helen describes this particular hot button:

“Do you appear to know what you are talking about? Are you coming across as an authority in your field? This is a big driver in political persuasion and holds a powerful effect in our writing and talking. We like to buy from people who know what they´re doing.” **

Granted, there are arguable two vectors to this hot button: Delivery and Content. Delivery underscores the typical sales mantra of being a confident communicator of ideas (or products), and it relates to vocabulary, body language, and other variables. Unfortunately for most of us non-natural sellers, delivery is an important vector and research suggests that it takes a person just 0.2 seconds*** to judge how confident someone is. Nevertheless, I am personally a stronger believe in the Content vector.

I chose this particular hot button because there are two anecdotes, one personal and one general, that showcase the importance of Content-credibility to achieve a positive Authority hot-button response.

  • The personal anecdote I would like to include is a reinforcement of my previous post on undergoing a career change. When I chose to shift from the private sector and beverage industry to the social venture and political science field, I had absolutely no credibility whatsoever when presenting my ideas and proposals to the later field. The decision to invest in a relevant educational program (Masters) and the decision to physically relocate to Venezuelan-Colombian border and write about the migration crisis allowed me to build credibility for myself. Now, when I write or talk about this topic, people listen, and I am able to access opportunities for collaboration and work that I would have otherwise been blind to had I not made these investments to create credibility. Had I not “walked the walk,” then I would have remained just another blogger writing opinion pieces instead of academically and policy-relevant content, which was my goal.
  • Amidst the Coronavirus situation, one of the most debated topics has been the role of news media, the role of social media, and the general flow of information. It has been interesting to see how the tidal wave of opinions, sources, and predictions have affected our everyday stability to somewhat elevated levels than normal. Respecting the general credibility filter that people have when sending, receiving, and forwarding Whatsapp messages and the like, it should be an important dinner debate to discuss the credibility vectors of this daily information flow. Because of the overall “fear volatility” many people are living with it is more important than ever that we carefully fine-tune the Credibility filter in The Feeler in order to stabilize our emotional responses.

Just to conclude, I strongly recommend the book Sales Mind by Helen Kensett. While many people may think that a sales book is only useful for people in the sales world, I categorically challenge this view by responding that all human interaction is based on a sales flow. The exchange of ideas, feelings, and opinions, in both our professional and personal lives, requires the study, practice, and perfection of communication. This book can help anyone looking to maximize engagement and delivery within public, private, non-profit, and third sector. And if you’re in neither, just as well, sales strategies are often needed in the family dinner table as well.

Enrique Jose Garcia is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. He was born from Cuban parents and was raised in Venezuela until moving to the U.S. to attend university. He has spent most of his career as an entrepreneur in the beverage sector, both in the U.S. and in Cambodia, and most recently started a Master’s at the London School of Economics in Public Administration and concentrating his studies on Social Entrepreneurship. He currently spends his time between London and Colombia and writes for a few publications on economics and entrepreneurship in Latin America.

Further Reading:
Helen Kensett Twitter Page
You may also be interested in my first post: Journalism as a Career Transition.
* Sales Mind. Kensett, Helen. (2016). Pg. 31
** Sales Mind. Kensett, Helen. (2016). Pg. 85
*** Sales Mind. Kensett, Helen. (2016). Pg. 85

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