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Accept Decisions by Other People

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A challenging task in professional and personal life is accepting decisions made by other people. Whether those decisions are good or bad in our own frame of reference, you are still dealing with the effects of organizational or personal change over which we have no control. A lack of control is a common stress trigger so it’s normal for your stress response to kick in and- you know what that means- do you fight, flight, or freeze?

Knowing your stress response kicks in when other’s make decisions, let’s examine how you can increase your acceptance level to decrease your stress level.

Why Your Stress Response Gets Triggered

When other’s make decisions our unconscious mind kicks in and starts evaluating those decisions up against our values, goals, trust levels, and lifestyle. Here are some examples to highlight what each might look like:

  • Values- Your employer extends office hours which cuts into family dinner time; Your aging parents decided to take a road trip without telling you; The social club you belong to donates funds to an organization that doesn’t align with your political views
  • Goals- Your organization goes on a hiring and promoting freeze so you don’t get the bonus you counted on for vacation; Your spouse moves forward with permanent birth control when you have been talking about another child; The bank that promised you a mortgage changed its credit score minimum which delays you moving forward
  • Trust Levels- Your partner of 3-years asks you to move out when there have been no warnings or discussions; You teenager decides to quit the team they’ve been on for years; Your favorite colleague doesn’t show up one day and you find out they got another job
  • Lifestyle- A pandemic hits and forces the places you love to frequent to shut down; You trainer decides to up their service price which is out of your budget; The exclusive club you have been trying to get into doesn’t accept your application; Your local grocery store moves a few miles down the road making it just a bit more difficult to do quick errands; The gym you love attending has a new manager and with that a new music selection you would give thumbs down

As you can imagine from these examples, the decisions others have made can cause your brain to then interpret the situation as a threat to your being. And the stress response begins.

Accepting Good Decisions by Other People

The first step in accepting a good decision by other people is to understand it. Using active listening to make sure you are clear about your role and responsibilities, the goals, and the expected results will help compartmentalize the decision. Express your agreement, if appropriate, with any element of the decision so you align yourself with the person in control. Agreeing even on the smallest parts slows your stress response, brings you in as part of the decision-making team, and increases your chances of influencing decisions in the future. And you may be surprised to learn that at least one study has found that decisions by other people are usually meant benevolently. Other people make decisions for you based on what they think is in your best interest—and they assume you have the same definition of ‘best interest” as they do.

The next step is to show support with enthusiasm and optimism when relaying the decision to your tribe. Your positive approach will affect the attitude of others and their own acceptance of the decision, making your role easier. There are opportunities in everything we do and nothing is written in stone so vigorously go all in with the decision conclusion and make it work to the best of your ability. It will be a learning experience regardless.

Step three is to implement the decision by considering the strengths and weaknesses of your tribe based on past experience, your resources and schedule, and your bandwidth to handle any emotional and mental backlash that comes at you.

The decision results are moving along and now is the time to have an unbiased analysis of the results. Communicating regularly with the decision-maker to report progress or any setbacks is a crucial task. It is ultimately your position to keep the decision on track as a team member in a way that gives it a better-than-fair chance of being successful. Your reports of progress, obstacles, and resources are the basis for analyzing what worked and what didn’t during the project. Your information will help to improve the next decision by other people, and may even determine what that next decision will be. It will also help your team to improve its own response.

Remember that the outcome is not the only way to discern whether a decision is good or bad. If you believe the decision was made after due consideration, in good faith, and consistent with your own judgment and values, then it was the best possible decision at the time regardless of how it works out in the end.

TIP: The stages of responding to a good decision are understanding, support, implementation, acceptance of the result, and working to ensure future good decisions. Good decisions by other people still require your own decision making as to how you will manage each step.

Accepting Bad Decisions by Other People

In the corporate world, a bad decision—from your perspective—might involve anything from piling yet another project on your stressful workload, to eliminating you or your entire team. It might involve a shift in technology, processes, organization, or strategies that you never asked for, never wanted, and do not understand. Personally, other people’s bad decisions cause accidents, cost you money, time, and lots of energy. Whether personally or professionally, accepting bad decisions made by other people is a sign of maturity, leadership, and kindness.

Once again, the first step in accepting a bad decision by other people is to understand it. If you approach the decision with an open mind, ask Empowering Questions that generate curiosity and critical thinking, you may find that a tipping point where you can accept that the decision, though still not what you would have done, has some merit. At the least, you will clarify your role, timelines, and potential next steps. You might even be able to negotiate parts of the decision—for example, the schedule or the available resources—to help you accept it.

A decision is harder to turn around once it is made. When you remain respectful and professional, your objections or concerns are more likely to be heard. It is only after you truly understand the full-spectrum of a decision, can you speak your mind with knowledge and confidence.

Assuming that you cannot reconcile yourself to the decision, your next step is to accept that the decision is made and figure out how you will handle it. Give yourself time to absorb the decision. While many bad decisions by other people are time-critical, your actions will be more efficient and effective once you turn your attention from resisting the decision to considering the best possible next steps. Using mantras like, “I will do my level best in every moment,” or “I will trust and see,” helps keep an open mind while taking the steps you find more difficult.

If a bad decision is dangerous or illegal, you may decide to refuse to act or to leave your job—that decision is always in your hands. You are not responsible for a bad decision made by other people but you are responsible for your own welfare and that of your tribe. When necessary, reach out for advice and support, including counseling, coaching, and legal representation. Again, the advice and support you receive may have the unexpected effect of reconciling you to the decision.

If the decision has the bad effects you predict, resist the “told you so” urge and look for ways to mitigate those effects. Keep track of how the bad decision affected you and your team and to what extent it met KPIs and goals. If you react to a bad outcome professionally and respectfully, you may be called upon in the future to help redefine the culture and the decision-making process to avoid similar bad decisions by other people.

TIP: While a bad decision may be outside your control, your response to the decision is well within it. That is your power and responsibility.

Key Takeaways

When facing decisions by other people, your role is to understand the decision and to respond professionally and respectfully, with full support of good decisions and with care for yourself and your team when the decision is bad.

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