If you need to make a difficult decision make sure you understand your surroundings as much as you understand the facts and details of what it is you’re trying to decide upon.
I recently had lunch with a colleague to discuss some key decisions that I need to make in our business surrounding strategy. I presented my facts, beliefs, and experience with great passion. My plan was both logical and well thought through. I knew however that some of my decisions, while believed by the team the correct ones to make, would create some discomfort. Why? Because while we can all understand logic, and positive correlations, we are after all human beings, and human beings dislike change no matter how sound, logical, positive, or necessary that change is.
My colleague, who has years of experience and incredible wisdom said to me, “be aware of the issues that are not part of the issues.” This statement perplexed me. I didn’t understand. When I asked her to explain she provided this wonderful story that provided the clarity to what she was saying.
For years she had her hair cut by the same stylist. Through life’s many trials and tribulations, ups and downs, good times and bad, this stylist cut her hair and listened to her stories. As times changed she wanted a new hair style but the stylist was unable to provide the cut she wanted. She knew she had to make a change but her feelings and emotions of abandoning this stylist were strong. She is an intensely loyal person and the thought of ending this long-standing relationship was quite troubling. Her head told her it was the right thing to do but her heart was most certainly conflicted. So while the issue at hand was achieving a new hair style, the emotional issue tied to her sense of loyalty came to the forefront of her making the decision to go elsewhere…hence the issue (emotional), not part of the issue (new hair style).
Bottom line: It’s critical to understand emotions when making a decision. Your emotions as well as those of the key stakeholders involved in that decision are paramount to effective decision-making. Emotional history, sometimes referred to as baggage, can play a major role in decision-making. Being aware of these issues, that are not part of the actual issue being decided upon, can help you frame your approach. Your decision is your decision. It’s the “how” (the approach) you present your decision that can often times become the difference between effective decision-making and holding the status-quo.