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The Five Stages of Indecision and What You Can Do About Them

Susan L Reid

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No one likes indecision. Not the person who's feeling indecisive; not the person who's waiting for a decision to be made. Once indecision occurs forward movement is stalled. Progress is halted and frustration sets in.

No matter what the situation, whether you're trying to close a sale or wresting with a decision about which house to purchase, the path from indecision to decision follows the same five stages.

The good news is, there is a way to help. By understanding the five stages of indecision and knowing what to do, you can help someone move from indecision to decision easily and quickly.

The Five Stages of Indecision

1. Acknowledge that there is a problem.

As soon as you realize someone is having trouble making a decision, acknowledge the indecision. Don't avoid the indecision by ignoring it, or bypass it will helpful suggestions. Simply say, “I can see that there's something that's bothering you, " or “Is there something you're not sure about?"

At this point, let them speak. Don't ask if there is something you can do to help them. Just acknowledge the indecision and wait for them to respond.

Those in this stage do not intend to make a decision. Pushing for outcome will drive them deeper into indecision.

2. Uncover their internal dialogue.

What's behind the indecision? Now is the time to learn what they are telling themselves about the problem in order to find out what part of the decision is keeping them stuck. Ask: “Tell me a little about what you're thinking, right now. "

Again, just let them speak. This is not the time to offer suggestions or counter what they are telling you. This is the time for you to take mental notes and empathize with their indecision.

Individuals in this stage are not even thinking about making a decision. They are trying to figure out what's wrong.

3. Communicate the dilemma.

State the dilemma as you understand it: “I see . . . on the one hand you'd like to have a home in the country where you can raise your children in relative safety, and on the other hand, you'd like to have a home in the city so you can expose them to cultural events. "

Individuals in this stage will consider making a decision once they think you have a solid grasp of the dilemma they're having.

4. Make it possible for them to make a decision.

You've already acknowledged that there is a problem. You know what their internal dialogue is and have communicated the dilemma. Now it's time to ask them what would make it possible for them to make a decision. Ask: “If you could wave your realistic magic wand, what would the best possible outcome or solution be, " or “If you could wave your realistic magic wand, where would you be living six months from now?"

Those in this stage are ready to take action. They are looking for a solution.

5. Deliver the solution.

Now is the time for you to find the perfect solution to their problem. Offer options. Explore possibilities. Let them know you are in this together.

Individuals in this stage are eager to make a decision and take action.

Having trouble making up your mind is a universal experience. Everyone knows what stuck feels like. However, not everyone knows about the five stages of indecision. That is, until now. Now you have the tools to help someone identify where they are stuck, and move them to a place of decision making by providing a solution that would be perfect for them.

Interested in learning about more creative ways you can deal with indecision? Then get instant access to your own free PDF copy of “Doing What You Love: Multiple Streams of Passion" at


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