If you haven't read the book Decivsive yet, you should get it and make the time to read it. I read it last year and started giving it away to people.
The book deals with better ways to make decisions. I tend to think that most people underestimate the value of looking at the system that they use to approach decision making.
The book challenges a lot of commonly held ideas about how to make decisions that are actually flawed. It gave me one of my favorite questions when making a decision (what would have to be true for _______ to happen?) and it spent a few pages dismantling the idea of references as a productive manner to learn about potential candidates.
It also helped explain a great technique for marriage counseling that I absolutely love. I'm just going to let the authors word speak for them by pasting the entire quote below.
Think of a couple in a troubled marriage: If one partner has labeled the other’s shortcoming— for instance, being “selfish”— then that label can become self-reinforcing. The selfish acts become easier to spot, while the generous acts go unnoticed. In situations like this, the therapist Aaron T. Beck, the founder of cognitive behavioral therapy, advises that couples consciously fight the tendency to notice only what’s wrong.
To avoid that trap, he advises couples to keep “marriage diaries,” chronicling the things their mates do that please them. In his book Love Is Never Enough, he describes a couple, Karen and Ted, who kept such a diary. One week, Karen noted several things that she appreciated about Ted: He sympathized with me about some bad behavior by one of my clients. He pitched in to help clean up the house. He kept me company while I was doing laundry. He suggested we go for a walk, which I enjoyed. Beck said, “Although Ted had done similar things for Karen in the past, they had been erased from her memory because of her negative view of Ted.”
The same effect held true for Ted’s memory of the nice things Karen had done. Beck cites a research study by Mark Kane Goldstein, who found that 70% of couples who kept this kind of marriage diary reported an improvement in their relationship. “All that had changed was their awareness of what was going on,”
Beck wrote. “Before keeping track, they had underestimated the pleasures of their marriage.” As in the marriage situation, our relationships at work are sometimes corrupted by negative assumptions that snowball over time. A colleague speaks out against our idea in a meeting, and we think, He’s trying to show off in front of the boss. If this happens another time or two, we might conclude he’s a “brown-noser,” a label that will become self-sustaining, as in the marriage situation.
Heath, Chip; Heath, Dan (2013-03-26). Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (Kindle Locations 1670-1685). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.