You want to be the best business manager you can be – regardless of whether you plan to pursue entrepreneurship or head straight to employment at an established corporation. Unfortunately, it’s likely that you’ll sabotage your own business management endeavors by engaging in faulty thinking.
Logical fallacies make sense at first glance, but if you pick apart their arguments, they don’t hold up. By avoiding falling into the traps of logical fallacies while you manage your team, you can be a stronger, more beloved leader in business.
Here are a few of the most pervasive fallacies to watch your thoughts for, so you can practice avoiding them at work.
Unless you are the CEO, the company president or some other business leader at the tippy-top of an organization, you only have a small amount of control over what you do and how your team functions. Unfortunately, when something doesn’t swing their way, your subordinates might blame you directly for their troubles instead of railing against the system or company as a whole. They might call you stupid, ineffective, weak or worse, and they might do it behind your back or to your face.
This is called the ad hominem fallacy: when someone attacks an individual instead of explaining exactly what is going wrong and targeting the true causes behind the issue. Humans are particularly susceptible to the ad hominem fallacy because of how our brains are wired; we want someone specific to blame.
However, you should avoid participating in ad hominem and instead strive to communicate more transparently with your team. If your employees understand that it isn’t your choice – it is the behavior of the market or the will of the consumer – they might be less inclined to attack you, and vice versa.
Argument From Authority
When you aren’t in the inner-circle, it’s easy to believe everything your higher-ups tell you. If your CEO approaches you and says “Productivity is down,” you are disposed to believe that productivity is indeed down. However, this is a fallacy known as argument from authority. Just because someone in a position of authority says something is true doesn’t mean that it is true.
You can fight this fallacy a few ways. First, you should ask your superiors for data proving their assertions. This you can pass onto your subordinates, to back up any statements that you make and enhance their trust in you. However, if your seniors refuse to submit any proof, you can work hard to supplant them and build a more trustworthy center of authority in the organization. The best way to do this is enrolling in a university online MBA program while you work. When you graduate, you will be qualified for c-suite positions and capable of enacting positive change from a real position of authority.
A hasty generalization is just as it sounds: a rushed conclusion developed without sufficient evidence. In business, it is important to make decisions fast, but generalizing can be dangerous for you, your employees and your customers. In fact, this fallacy is so pernicious that there are laws in place to prevent its use. For instance, you are legally not allowed to discriminate against potential hires because of their race, gender, marital status, disability or other personal features.
Fortunately, it is easy to avoid hasty generalization through habit. Instead of relying entirely on your gut instinct, try to think logically through every decision, relying on facts and data. As you practice, you will become better at incorporating accurate information into your assessments, so you will be bale to make fast decisions that aren’t hasty or poorly formed.
False dichotomies appear all the time in business management. This fallacy states that there are only two choices – when in fact there are almost always more options to choose from. Take this example: You have a poorly performing employee. You can either ignore their performance, or you can fire them.
This false dichotomy oversimplifies the issue to your detriment and your employee’s. The truth is that your possible courses of action are much more varied – you might confront the employee about their performance; you might reduce their working hours for a trial period; you might incentivize them with a raise or some other perk. The solution to the false dichotomy is taking time to pick apart the problem and weigh all your options, not just those that are immediately apparent.