Troy Media – by Faith Wood
I am curious, how do you make decisions for yourself, whether big or little? Do you find yourself agonizing, tossing and turning at night and constantly caught up in the ‘What if’ game? Or, do you make rapid fire decisions and move on to the next challenge, whatever consequences come of it? Ever live with regret from a decision you wish you never made?
I have spent a summer addressing this very issue, in both my personal and professional lives. So I thought I would take a peek at the whole context of decision making – something that can be really tough on a person.
How is it that some people find it easy to solve tough problems with simple solutions while others find this feat nearly impossible?
Go slow vs. just Go
Summer 2011 at the Wood house has been one of outdoor renovations. We spent May and June trying to dry out the ground (and our house and garage) so we could address the water issues in and around our property. What to do with the deck and yard became a big decision-making process. It wasn’t even all about the big expenses that were coming with this massive undertaking but rather a huge desire to think creatively and not have to tackle this project again in the foreseeable future. Our yard is south facing and we want to enjoy it – not spend every waking minute maintaining it.
My husband is a researcher – he likes to investigate all possible options before he renders a decision, from water repellent materials and deck configurations – all via DIY and Google. I, on the other hand, like to render rapid decision-making rather than expending too much energy in analysis paralysis – I like the Decide quick and Go method. This could be a breeding ground for conflict in our home, except for the fact that we tend to accommodate both styles as much as possible.
Until my husband has completely exhausted himself in the research arena, he is rarely ready to accept my input – in spite of nightly requests for it. Over the years, we have developed a synergistic relationship in this decision-making area. He asks my opinion – I give him a quick response and then he goes back to Google completely ignoring my response. Eventually, I get frustrated and insist that we make a decision based on what we already know as he gets mired in details and facts.
Our comfort with decisions is often based on our personal preferences towards risk, our level of personal self-confidence, our experience with a similar situation before this one and the context or degree of seriousness in the problem.
If you are someone (like me) who likes change to happen frequently, who craves variety, then you may make decisions on the fly. After all, you are someone who is prone to shake things up a bit within the next 18 months to five years anyway (so how bad could the decision you make today really be?)
If you are someone who is adverse to change, you may choose to spend your time researching every possible angle for all possible consequences prior to delivering a resolution. You will be looking for a way to maintain similarity and consistency. Safe decision making is paramount here.
Problem solving is educated trial and error
At the end of the day, a decision will be required so ease up on yourself. Most of it is fixable regardless of the decision – it just might cost a little more.
Beware of anybody who tries to convince you there is one “right” or “best” way to solve problems. Human problem-solving is educated trial and error. There is no system that works every time. Many solutions are possible, and some are better than others.
Your skill as a problem-solver depends on your repertoire of tools and your knowledge of how to use them. With just a hammer and nails, a carpenter can build quite a few things. However, if he gets more tools, he can build more things. The more tools he acquires, the better he can deal with different wood-working situations. A good carpenter is inventive and flexible.
It is September and I am enjoying our new tiered deck, made from composite materials and held down by 30 concrete pillars designed to keep the boards from lifting and the water flowing away from our house. After a quick post-mortem over a glass of wine, my husband and I are in agreement – the final design was a good decision.
Faith Wood, Facilitator and Communication Trainer, has over two decades of experience dealing with conflict. Her 14 years as a Canadian peace officer coupled with a Master’s Degree in Neurolinguistic Psychology, plus years of coaching and mentoring, offers a unique understanding of conflict situations. Visit: www.imind.ca to learn more.
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