Decision Making Compatibility Considerations

When individuals have the same Approach, Decision Making can be easy for them. Unfortunately, many people make decisions on a Content sensitive basis. In other words, they develop confidence about making decisions in certain ways in certain situations. What makes this even more difficult is that many of us are trained to do our Decision Making the way our parents wanted us to do it. This creates confusion when what we believe is the right way to make a decision is frustrating. Until we get to a point where we can honor our own choices and get in flow with ourselves, it is impossible to align with others in a decision-making process. We keep falling into the trap of believing what we should do, which may be compromising our ability to be ourselves fully and to engage others fully.

Diagram 9, Decision Making Compatibility shows the challenges that exist when there are differences in Decision Making styles. It is important to honor that every person has a unique combination of Convergent/Divergent energy that defines his or her approach to solving problems. Problems occur when people do not have an understanding of the full range of natural decision-making approaches that can work in a given situation. In other words, we become focused on our way of doing things and do not accept that others could accomplish things just as effectively by doing them differently. We need to realize that Convergent and Divergent approaches are equally powerful and valid. The more we see one and discount the other, the more we are setting ourselves up for reactions and fear when others do not respond the way we expect. These issues arise more than we may realize because mutual problem solving is rare in business and relationships today.

An example of different Decision-making Approaches could be when two people are trying to decide which movie to see, at what time, and at which location. The Convergent person will first try to establish how much time they have to make the decision, to which the Divergent person usually objects. The Divergent Approach is to look at the entire list, and consider all the choices with all the times and locations. This will frustrate the focusing and prioritizing efforts of the Convergent person, who will tend to believe it is easier and much more efficient if the Divergent person would just name two or three movies which they can quickly look up.

This example provides a taste of the frustrations that can arise with differences in a relationship or business situation. These scenarios reflect different circumstances where individuals with differences have the power to make certain pre-agreed decisions to accomplish pre-determined objectives. For example, in a relationship, each party may have a certain amount of money they personally can use to spend on themselves. As part of this framework, they could also say that any expenditure over $500 must have the agreement of both partners. Making agreements up front about how circumstances will be managed, is one of the ways individuals can create safety and security particularly if they have different Decision Making styles.

In business, our superiors may have agreed on structures about how we are going to deal with certain problems, and when certain deviations from the structure occur, they expect us to report the problems back to them. In this situation, we could also establish agreed-on tolerance levels where, if certain conditions are exceeded, we automatically apply certain rules to either mitigate a loss or to maximize a gain. These structures reflect our safety and security needs, and as such, are defensive and proscriptive. They arise because of two simultaneous demands: the urgency of feedback (a Convergent perspective) and the importance of making an informed choice (a Divergent perspective).

When we are in conflict and unwilling to consider the differences of our partners (in relationships or business) we can end up hurting them by taking unilateral actions that discount their participation. In this process, we are covertly telling them that we will not be controlled and since the situation cannot be reversed without consequences, they are stuck with it. This can be seen when one partner goes out and buys clothes or a car without consulting the other. In business, this can happen when an individual gets very attached to an outcome and over-spends their budget. Sometimes these actions are a response to the way we were treated in our childhood. If no one listened to us then, it is easy to see how we might learn to take action without considering others now.

This issue ends up undermining everyone’s well-being by pre-empting, denying or discounting others’ choices. Everyone really wants a sense of participation in things that affect them, but many of us have blinders on regarding how willing we are for others to participate. Usually, this reflects the degree of fear we have, either that others will not listen to us, so we do things unilaterally, or the misconception that people with different status have more say. We see examples of this in many companies where each level of management is considered to have a greater prerogative than the level beneath it. Meaning, in effect, that management has a greater say over the process than the people implementing it.

When we can separate the implementation strategy from the right to make our own decision, we start to make choices that no longer need to be confirmed or affirmed by others. We will also not react to others’ implementation styles believing they are trying to limit our ability to choose. Maybe they are reacting unconsciously to our implementation style just as we have in the past. Knowing the difference between different implementation styles eliminates our assuming that a person’ wanting to do something differently from us means they do not care about us. Until we know the differences between Convergent and Divergent decision-making styles, we might not even recognize the differences between us and them. The opportunity now is to use this information to transform our approach with others so we develop healthy skills and behaviors that promote unity and clear expression.

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© Copyright 2016, Larry Byram. All Rights Reserved.

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