About “Not My Decision”

In organizations worldwide, strategies are set, markets are selected, tactics are identified…and not everyone agrees with the direction. Yet no matter the issue or the organizational level, what remains well within each individual’s control is how he or she responds.

When confronted with a seemingly wrongheaded decision, it’s easy—even natural—to slip into judgment. But jumping to conclusions, making assumptions, and oversimplifying frequently-complex issues in negative shorthand are rarely helpful. What’s more productive—and a lot harder— is dedicating oneself to genuine listening.

Understanding is one of the key tools employees have to bridge the gap between what is and how they think it should be. And it begins with a sincere intention to gain an appreciation of (not necessarily agreement with) another perspective.

Being faced with a decision we wouldn’t have made is one of the quickest ways to induce selective blindness. Under these circumstances, people tend to focus attention exclusively on the differences between them and those responsible for the decision. Fueling this contrast creates an ever-expanding chasm that makes listening, understanding and connecting more challenging. The alternative is to cultivate commonality. Seek out similarities. Simply reaching out, having a cup of coffee, or chatting about the family will provide the essential reminder that we’re all human beings, struggling with similar issues, feeling many of the same feelings and—for the most part—doing the best we can each day. This doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, but it provides a far more solid foundation upon which to build

Summing-up: Distasteful, unpopular decisions are a natural part of life. In the end, how we address them and how we find productive paths forward despite the differences define not just the outcome of a given decision, but fundamentally who we are as individuals and as groups.

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