Skip to content

Following the Decisions of Others

Share this

In both business and personal life, we often must follow decisions made by other people—higher up the corporate chain, with authority we do not have (for example, changing an airplane schedule), or with competing priorities (for example, cancelling an interview). 


Responding to a Decision

Whether communicated face-to-face or in writing, most decisions require acknowledgement and most involve a follow-up plan or action. If you find yourself having to follow decisions made by others, your response should:

  • Focus on what involves you directly rather than ranging over the entire decision making process.
  • Be positive and respectful if you have questions; negativity and disrespect may close off the flow of information you need.
  • Ask future-action questions; do not make a past-action attack. There is a vast difference between “why did you make that decision?” (past-action) and “what are the next steps?” (future-action). 


Find Your Empowerment

Remember that your response to another’s decisions also involves a decision—your decision on how you will respond. You are empowered to own the decision and own your own part in the actions that follow.

It may help to consider that following other’s decisions is training in leadership and in making decisions that others will follow. Many of the characteristics that make a good leader are the same as those required by a good follower: emotional intelligence, collaboration, strong communication skills, and strategic thinking, among others. Analyze how those characteristics appear (or not) in other’s decisions and you will be build a blueprint for your own decision making.


Disagreeing with a Decision

Following other’s decisions is fairly easy when you agree with the decision; but what if you disagree? Surprisingly, an American Psychological Association study in 2011 found that agreeable men earned over $10,000 less per year than disagreeable men and agreeable women earned over $3,000 less than disagreeable women. The difference seems to be driven by the relative strength of one’s desire for positive relationships, money, advancement, and stress avoidance. Disagreeing with a decision is not necessarily a negative for your career.

But your tendency to disagree is only one possible factor in your response to a decision; you may decide against following other’s decisions for moral reasons or because the potential risks are too high for yourself, the company, or the community at large. In that case, you should take the time to:

  • Consider in detail the decision, the situation that prompted it, and the benefits or consequences that are likely.
  • Clarify your reasons for disagreeing—for example, are you disagreeing with the entire decision or parts of it or the timing or the person who made it or your role?
  • Brainstorm alternatives; if a decision is necessary, offer alternative ways to respond to the situation.
  • Find a neutral time when you can discuss the decision objectively and with mindfulness, share your reasons for disagreeing, and present your alternatives; an objective discussion should avoid ultimatums.
  • Decide on your next steps. You may find after further discussion that you favor the decision or are willing to give it your support despite your misgivings. If you still strenuously object or if you believe the decision to be dangerous, you have to decide what to do. 

Interested in keeping your stress at bay?

Untitled design (23)

Note: If you have thoughts of hurting yourself and/or others, please call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.

Our Mission

Rest from Stress, powered by JB Partners, is committed to teaching Stress Management and Resilience Training through the immersive Rest Membership, interactive workshops, invigorating speaking engagements, and personal business coaching. Our passion is to teach others how to lead a life with less stress and more fulfillment.


3218 E. Bell Rd, #14, Phoenix, AZ 85032