The CEO was exasperated. The wife was fuming. The teenager felt betrayed. Although involved in different situations, each was responding to the same conundrum: A conclusion that was thought to be a decision but turned out to be a surprise ending.
The CEO had carefully arranged a meeting with his employee representatives to hear their concerns and gain their trust. The most contentious issue concerned the manner in which their hours were being recorded. The employees own records often did not match the payroll stub resulting in different pay than they believed had been earned. The CEO agreed to investigate the payroll process and get back to the employees within two weeks. One week later he reported that the payroll process would remain in place, while more scrutiny would be given to the several data collection points. The CEO was exasperated when he received notice that his employee group had filed a complaint with the state’s labor relations board.
John and Sara were in the midst of a long anticipated vacation when the house sitter sent notice that he no longer could stay at their house. They considered their options and discussed at length the merits and demerits of each one. Long past the time Sara thought the matter deserved, she stood up from her poolside chaise lounge and stomped away with a shout of “Just do it your way, that’s the way it always ends up anyway!”
Sam had very carefully arranged with his parents to stay up later than the usual bed time to watch a Special television report on his favorite soccer team. Several days before he made sure that no other family member had interest in a program that was in a competing time slot. Before dinner on the special day, he made it clear to his parents that his homework was completed and he was all prepared for school the next day. He talked excitedly about the Sporting team and players during dinner and enjoyed being better informed than his Dad about the team’s statistics. Without complaint, he helped his sister clear the table and clean the kitchen. He told her it was going to be so cool to be able to stay up late on a school night! Just a half-hour before the program was to begin, his Dad announced bedtime and his clear intention that Sam begin the going-to-bed ritual. “But, Dad, you promised!” Sam protested loudly. The response was a more emphatic direction toward bed.
Deconstructing each of these interactions could easily identify breakdowns in communication. Typically, this activity becomes a fault-finding venture with many hurt feelings to be put aside before lasting resolution is achieved.
An alternative is to reach agreement upon a criterion for a “good” decision and apply that to future issues. An effective criterion can be simply stated. We will have a decision when we agree on an action(s) that are good for you, good for me, and good for us.
Good is, of course, a relative term. But it isn’t too difficult for anyone, regardless of age, to match an action with what she or he wants. What’s more, knowing that what is good for “me” is respected by “you” provides a shared platform for determining what is good for us.
“Us” is a simple pronoun for a profound noun, “community”. As in a family; or, a company; or, a neighborhood, church, school, and any social unit with shared history, interests and aspirations. Arriving at a decision, i.e., agreed upon action(s) leading to a conclusion, when “you” and “me” are the only considerations beg contentious confrontation. Including “us” requires discovery and acknowledgement of that which has preceded, that which is shared and that which is desired, together.
DolphinWork Life Coaches can facilitate good decision-making by supporting an individual’s clarification of what s/he wants; by promoting skill development in hearing and encouraging what an other wants; by assuring the appreciation, creation and definition of a common good. DolphinWork Life Coaching, a good decision!