I have many conversations with clients and friends about a topic that haunts a lot of us in our professional lives: “What are the possible consequences of the decisions I make?”
We then find ourselves debating the basis of a decision on the “like factor”.
Being in HR for nearly 20 years I had learned a preliminary short cut to company decision making by asking two questions: “Is it legal?” and, “Is it ethical?”
If I received a “yes” or “I’m pretty sure – hear me out” response, we would explore the subject matter. A “no” response, however, ended the conversation full stop. There it is, black and white, factual, backed by policy, process and law, indisputable – easy-peasy. The in-between gray matters required a different approach and more time to explore.
Professionally, as we climb the corporate ladder, and even when we achieve the coveted executive status, the “like factor” redirects our journey of logical and factual decision making to a detour at the weigh station.
We first spend a lot time demonstrating our abilities to anyone who will take notice of our undeniable awesomeness to prove we earned this position in the company. A type of confidence that you believe unarguably sends a warning to your boss that you’ll be in his/her office shortly! Once your job competency has been established you begin to move to the next phase – the people acceptance/like factor phase, or as I like to call it “a seat at the cool table in the cafeteria” phase. And, if not handled appropriately, nothing can have you ejected faster from that table when moving from the position of “peer” to “boss”.
Did you just have a flashback to jr. high or high school? During those awkward development years, how you dressed, who your friends were, how you reacted to situations, your social status, etc. all stemmed from your desire to be liked and accepted, and therefore, would sometimes alter your true self (going along to get along). You fervently believed that one day those feelings would all be behind you when you reached adulthood, and had a career. However, we may find ourselves back in that cafeteria, feeling awkward. And because we still crave that feeling of acceptance we may check our values at the door.
When people look to you to make a business decision that will have some type of human impact and/or consequence, how do you respond? Do you start with an analytical approach – listing all the facts, processes and procedures, policies and possible liabilities? Or, is your response a more fear-based approach – heart-racing, stomach churning, anxiety-induced worry about making a wrong decision? Perhaps you respond with excitement, confidence, and high energy as you consider all the possible opportunities?
How we react to situations and others (Emotional Intelligence/EQ), especially potentially stressful situations, reveals a lot about ourselves. We are very often walking around with blinders on, wrapped up in our comfortable routines and coping mechanisms so we may not be aware of our behaviors or our values that determine our actions.
Perhaps you learned a long time ago that it was better to “go along to get along” in order to avoid conflict and stress-related emotions, or possible alienation.
When we are making current or future decisions we tend to reflect on our values and on our past desicions. Thoughts lead to feelings and feelings lead to choices, and the choices you make will be based on how those previous decisions/experiences impacted your life.
Being aware of “if” and “how” you go along to get along is important. The “why” is crucial.